The swimming pool at the Cameron Park Community Services District was crowded with happy youngsters on May 17 but inside, at the district board meeting, the atmosphere was more somber as board members struggled to prepare next fiscal year’s budget.
Staff reported that the district is projected to end the year with a surplus of $250,000, most of which will come from savings in the fire department’s budget. Suggested ways for using the surplus included $25,000 toward the Community Center budget; $25,000 for the fire equipment fund; $20,000 toward the Parks budget; $100,000 to help balance next year’s budget; and $30,000 toward a Park and Recreation Master Plan and Fire Review. Since the amount of the surplus is still a projection no final decisions were made on how to use carryover fund.
The board then moved on to discuss next year’s budget, projected at $4.9 million. Board president Shiva Frentzen said they will need to take into account $100,000 less in property taxes than originally projected.
General Manager Mary Cahill offered several ideas for saving almost $178,000 in the next fiscal year. Included in the suggestions were closing the lagoon, saving $45,000, but Cahill said doing so would remove a popular amenity. Also, she added, if the board later decided to reopen it they might find it difficult to get approval to do so because of environmental concerns. Other suggestions included closing some open space parks, reducing security patrols, eliminating district provided paramedic services, reducing money spent responding to graffiti and vandalism and reducing the swim program.
Those suggested cost savings did not sit well with the public or board members — especially eliminating paramedic services.
Resident Barbara Rogers complained, “We are a small agency and no better than the city of Sacramento. I don’t care what you have to close but don’t touch our fire services. In Sacramento they have to hold a fundraiser to keep their pool open so cry me a river. When are you going to get tough and make the general manager cut her budget? When are you going to get serious?”
Vicky Neibauer, a local resident and a senior budget analyst for Sacramento County, said the board should put aside 1 percent of its budget for deferred maintenance. She also said new legislation may require that the pool install a lift for the disabled and that cost needs to be factored into the budget.
Frentzen asked Cahill to come back with a new plan that factors in $100,000 less in expected property tax revenue and also builds in a reserve. She suggested another budget workshop was needed before the next regular board meeting on June 20.