In the news

Hanford adopts preliminary budget

Hanford Sentinel | June 28, 2018

HANFORD — After several special meetings and study sessions, the Hanford City Council has approved a preliminary budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year.

At its meeting on June 19, Council voted 4-0, with Councilman Justin Mendes absent, to approve a preliminary budget that could possibly leave the city almost $137,000 in the black by June 2019.

For the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1, Hanford had already added two additional city positions to the budget. The new positions include one school resource officer for the Hanford Police Department budget and one fleet mechanic position.

During the meeting, Council discussed several amendments to the budget.

Council decided to add another sergeant position to the police department that would be in charge of youth services and oversee the Student Resource Officer program.

City Manager Darrel Pyle said the sergeant position would be partially funded by a Police Activities League grant and the Pioneer Union Elementary School District. He said the city would pay about 80 cents for every dollar going to this position and Council was supportive of the addition.

“I think it’s a good bang for our buck anytime we can pay 80 cents and get a dollar,” Vice Mayor Sue Sorensen said.

Council also unanimously agreed to add three firefighter positions and a new ladder truck for the Hanford Fire Department.

Pyle said a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant would pay for 75 percent of all three firefighter positions for two years, leaving the city to pay about $60,000 in the upcoming fiscal year.

The new ladder truck will be purchased with money from several fire-related reserve accounts.

In addition to a new heating and air conditioning system, Council decided to appropriate an extra $50,000 to renovate the old courthouse’s third floor, including new carpet, flooring, lighting, painting and kitchen renovation. The city plans to lease out this space for events when all work is complete.

Council also discussed expansion plans for The Plunge. The city has about $424,000 in reserves and is looking to add a grassy area next to the pool that will be open year-round and will have shade structures, picnic and play areas, fencing and a gate.

Council decided to get the input of the Parks and Recreation Department before hiring someone to come up with design concepts and establishing a budget.

During the meeting, Councilwoman Diane Sharp discussed several amendments she would like to see.

While $150,000 was set aside in the budget for historic building maintenance, Sharp said she would eventually like the city to set aside at least $1 million for major maintenance projects like roofing, electrical and HVAC.

“We’ve been saving for all these other things, [but] we haven’t been doing the same level of saving for our historic gems,” Sharp said.

Council agreed that discussions need to happen to get this number to grow over the years for deferred maintenance of city-owned historic buildings.

Sharp also expressed wanting to add a code enforcement officer to the city’s Community Development Department to help with proactive code enforcement.

“I’d like to see us maintain the quality of our community and the cleanliness of our community,” Sharp said.

After hearing about ongoing problems and complaints from local business owners, Sharp also mentioned adding a part-time customer service position in the Community Development Department to help facilitate communication between the city and business owners.

Council agreed to have staff look into adding these positions Sharp mentioned.

Sharp then made a motion to approve the budget with the discussed amendments and all Council members present voted “yes.”

According to his calculations, Pyle said the city should end up about $136,800 in the black with the adopted recommendations. However, the budget could change throughout the year.

In a budget message to Council available online, Pyle said one factor that could potentially impact this budget is the November general election ballot measure that would establish a taxing mechanism to tax the medical cannabis industry permitted in Hanford’s Industrial Park.

If passed, impacts from the tax measure are anticipated to be all positive, but how much money the city actually gets would depend on the volume of business that actually comes to Hanford.

Another major impact on the budget will be based on the investment by Faraday Future, also located in the Industrial Park.

“This investment could generate as much as $500,000 in additional property tax revenue that may be partially recognized as early as April of 2019,” Pyle said in the message.

Tuesday, Pyle said a final budget document should be available online for viewing in about four weeks.

View Original Publication: Hanford Sentinel