PIEDMONT -- The city is on stable financial footing with a $195,000 increase in revenue from a backlog of ambulance charges due, bringing total general fund revenues to $21,666,508, Finance Director Erick Cheung said in his midyear financial report.

Property transfer tax was healthy, but not as robust as one of the city's best years -- 2012-13 -- when it pulled in $3,186,001. Property transfer tax through December 2013 was $1,526,221. Going into the home sales season, the tax is estimated to bring in a total of $2.8 million or more by June 30, Cheung estimated. High home prices in Piedmont are a boon to the city from property transfer taxes. During the economic downturn in 2008-09, those taxes only generated $1,711,738 total.

City Administrator Geoff Grote said the midyear budget numbers "are in line with budgetary estimates, and expenditures are below 50 percent halfway through the fiscal year.

"It was a little less good in that real property transfer tax is lagging. We are hoping for increased volume this spring, even if we don't reach the extraordinary levels in 2012-13.

"All in all, (we are in) a solid position after some lean times a few years ago," Grote said.

A snapshot of the general fund, the city's operating budget, the report shows an estimated total income of $22,971,508, which includes $1,305,000 of operating transfers in so far. Total expenditures for fiscal year 2013-14 are estimated at $22,545,116, with $1,763,471 transfers out. That leaves a stable general fund balance of $3,824,782.


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Higher sources of income for 2013-14 include $10.1 million from property taxes, $2.3 million from other taxes and franchises, $2.8 million from property transfer taxes, and $2.7 million from charges for services. Other sources include $920,000 from motor vehicle license fees and $75,000 from a half-cent sales tax for public safety.

Salaries and benefits for the city's employees cost the bulk of operating expenses. In terms of salaries, fire protection is estimated at $5.6 million, with police at $5.7 million. Public works is estimated to cost $4.2 million, with recreation at $2.6 million and administration at $2.6 million. Total expenditures in this category are estimated at $20.7 million.

Costs are up slightly from the budget adopted earlier by the City Council, because employees all received a 3 percent salary increase this fiscal year, after receiving no increases for four years. Overall, health insurance is budgeted at $2.14 million, and retirement at $3.4 million for 2013-14.

The budget for the aquatics center is showing a projected deficit of $157,870, with revenue projected at $575,000 and expenditures at $732,870. The general fund subsidy to keep the center afloat is $160,000, leaving an ending fund balance of $111,790. The city hopes to reduce the deficit with more memberships.

An overview of the capital improvement fund shows a total of $893,421 expended for 2013-14. The biggest ticket item was $678,613 for license plate readers. Other projects included $102,652 for Ronada Ramona intersection; $25,779 for Crocker Park garage; $22,532 for fire hydrant replacement; and $30,000 for Beach Elementary School access and landscape plan. Funds of $301,602 remain.

The sewer fund is showing a deficit of $223,765 for 2013-14. Voters defeated a measure in February, 2012 to raise the parcel tax from $471 to $849 per parcel per year, to $707 to $1,274 per parcel per year. The ending fund balance in the sewer fund is projected at $1.1 million down from $1.3 million for 2012-13. Diligent maintenance and only necessary repairs are employed to keep the costs down.

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