ANTIOCH -- City leaders this week approved a nearly $43 million operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year that will put more police officers on the street but reduce hours at the downtown library.
The City Council voted 4-1 Tuesday in favor of the spending plan, which will also boost code enforcement and maintain the status quo with other city services.
Councilman Gary Agopian cast the lone dissenting vote.
After months of talks about the budget, the council had little to say Tuesday before voting to adopt it.
"I think we're quiet because we've gone through this process for several months. We have it down; we asked the hard questions," Councilman Tony Tiscareno said before the vote.
Antioch leaders, who used "bare bones" and "draconian" to describe steep cuts made the past few years because of plummeting revenue, expect to bring in about $4.5 million because of Measure C, a half-cent per dollar sales tax approved in November.
Having already hired several sworn police officers in recent months, Antioch's budget calls for an increase from 88 (the department's current number) to 97 by July 1, along with 2.5 non-sworn officer positions.
The city's target is for 100 sworn officers a year later, and 104 by July 2016.
Some residents, including entrenched Measure C supporters, expressed confusion and frustration in recent months about the number of new officers promised as a result of the tax. Antioch was authorized for 102 sworn officer positions at the time of the November election, but about 20 of those spots were unfilled and unfunded.
Hans Ho, a Measure C supporter who was among those who thought the tax would supplement the baseline force of 102 officers with 22 new hires, said he was satisfied after talking over the budget with city staff that the money isn't there to hire additional police beyond the current staffing targets.
"We have to look at the reality that we never had it to begin with and move on. It doesn't do any good to fight that," said Ho, who chairs the oversight committee for the sales tax.
Agopian voted against the budget because he thought the number of police hires "didn't keep the faith with the voters."
"I think we should have upped it," he said.
Aside from Measure C funds, much of the city's budget remains the same as the past two years. It includes subsidies of $577,000 for recreation services, $276,000 for Lone Tree Golf Course and $253,000 for Prewett Water Park operations, along with a rainy-day fund of about $6.6 million.
Other cuts include saving $150,000 by foregoing earthquake insurance for two city buildings and nearly $112,000 that had gone to the county for additional hours at the East 18th Street library branch, thus reducing weekly hours from 35 to 28.
Antioch's budget has a slight surplus this year, but there is the potential for a deficit of about $810,000 the next year and significantly higher after that, Finance Director Dawn Merchant said.
"It's imperative that we plan for additional ways to grow revenue," she said.
Antioch is conservatively projecting a 5 percent increase in property tax, City Manager Steve Duran said. Also, a business license tax for landlords that voters will consider in November could bring in $2.3 million each year, he said.
Several members of Antioch's public works department attended Tuesday's meeting, urging an end to the city's furloughs on Friday and restoration of a 40-hour workweek.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.