CONCORD -- The city plans to use nearly $4 million in additional revenue to pay for public works projects and fully fund the annual contribution to retiree benefits.
Concord pocketed $1.8 million last year due primarily to increases in building fees, and sales and hotel room tax revenue, and projected revenues for the current fiscal year are up $1.9 million.
On Feb. 11, the City Council amended the budget based on information presented as part of the midyear review.
"We are not out of the woods yet, by far, financially," Mayor Tim Grayson said. "However, it is a great relief to see the indicators of recovery are around us and there is, even better yet, growth happening."
For the fiscal year ending June 30, staffers are projecting that the city's revenues will come in $1.9 million higher than budgeted from several sources, including $190,000 more in hotel room tax, an additional $180,000 from licenses and permits, and $320,000 in sales tax from Measure Q, the half-cent increase that expires in March 2016.
This news comes a month after the council learned that Concord needs about $10 million more in revenue per year to fully fund retiree benefits and pay for a backlog of repairs to roadways and other infrastructure.
The current budget includes just $3 million for retiree medical benefits when Concord should be contributing $4.7 million each year to be fully funded.
The city also should be paying $1.2 million more per year than is budgeted to fully fund the City of Concord Retirement System, a closed plan which covers full-time employees who retired or left the city before June 28, 1999.
The council agreed to use $2.9 million of the combined additional funds from last fiscal year and increases projected for this year to make the full annual contribution these benefits.
However, these payments won't begin to pay down the city's $42 million unfunded liability for retiree medical insurance or the $24 million that is unfunded for the City of Concord Retirement System.
"One-time funds should be going to reduce the unfunded pool, but not the underfunded yearly contribution," Councilman Edi Birsan said. "This is a little bit of gambling that I don't want to see us go forward with."
The council also agreed to spend $662,000 on public works projects, including $200,000 for building maintenance, $312,000 to replace roadway signs with ones that reflect streetlights and vehicle headlights, and $150,000 for a comprehensive assessment of infrastructure at the city's parks -- for playground equipment, irrigation systems, sports facilities and lighting. During the economic downturn, Concord cut 144 jobs, including three vacant police dispatcher positions. Since then, the department has used part-time workers and sworn officers to assure minimum staffing levels. Police Chief Guy Swanger said the department's part-time and overtime costs this year will exceed the $273,000 included in the budget.
The council authorized hiring three full-time dispatchers -- at an estimated annual cost of $276,000 for salaries and benefits. The cost for will be included in the 2014-2015 fiscal year budget.
"We anticipate that, in essence, hiring ahead and getting those three additional dispatchers will bring down the amount of overtime we're currently pumping into it," Swanger said.
Lisa P. White covers Concord and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.