In his third State of the City speech Folsom Mayor Andy Morin found the city facing a completely different future than he did when he gave similar speeches in 2006 and 2007. In January of those years the outlook was brighter, though fiscal storm clouds were gathering.
This year is more problematic, following a couple rounds of budget cuts that resulted in layoffs and cuts.
Morin delivered his speech at the Jan. 25 Folsom City Council meeting and again at the Jan. 27 Folsom Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
Folsom has always taken pride in being a full-service city, with city staff providing an exceptional level of services across the board. Whether the city can sustain that high level in the near future is a question.
To put the situation in perspective Morin looked backward in order to look forward. Hearkening back to 1966 — more than a century after Folsom’s founding and 20 years after it was incorporated as a city — the mayor said reading about it “gives you a sincere appreciation for all we enjoy today.”
In 1966 Folsom had 6,000 residents and a general fund budget of $250,000. Today, Folsom has around 65,000 residents, plus the approximately 6,000 inmates at Folsom State Prison and California State Prison, Sacramento, who were added when the prison property was annexed to Folsom in 1971.
Folsom’s general fund, out of which most services are paid, peaked at $81 million a few years ago. Today it is down to around $65 million.
In the last three years the city has lost about 100 employees and three department heads. Folsom now employs 450 people in 11 departments under city manager Kerry Miller. “With reduced resources, all departments are running at higher levels of productivity and in many instances adding services while maintaining consistently high community ratings,” said Morin.
To balance the budget, the City Council dipped into the “rainy day” fund, which is now at around $4 million. Before restoring any trimmed services, the City Council will work to grow the reserve fund back to $10 million, which meets the target of 15 percent of the general fund.
Morin talked about the effect of dealing with the fiscal crisis: For city employees, it is reduced benefits and increased workloads. For residents and businesses, it is decreased service levels in some areas. For the City Council and administration, Morin said, “Prioritizing expenditures and levels of service in an environment of sinking revenue and increasing employment costs is an excruciating process.” None of the City Council members are fulltime; they each have day jobs.
Morin said the experience caused “fiscal fatigue,” which he explained is “the exhausting and frustrating process of repeatedly balancing a shrinking budget only to find out six months later it needs to be reduced again.”
The budgetary threats continue. Folsom lost about $100,000 in library funding and is facing the loss of the redevelopment district, as are other cities and counties throughout the state, under Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget.
In spite of the hardships Morin praised the various city department leaders and staff. He also mentioned the volunteers who supplement city services. He cited the low unemployment rate in Folsom and the fact that Folsom leads the list for the number of patents issued to companies and individuals.
He paid tribute to community service organizations, “historic, sports, arts and cultural, public safety, educational and others,” commenting that, “The enduring work of these groups is critical to our day-to-day vibrancy and ensures that there is truly something for everyone in Folsom.”
Morin wrapped up his State of the City 2011 by saying, “It is my strong belief that this council, and all of the councils since and prior to 1966, have been worthy stewards of our local destiny and we are committed to meeting the high and well-established expectations of all who live, work and play in the great City of Folsom.”
Mayor Andy Morin is committed to open, accessible government. He can be reached at [email protected] or (916) 355-8302.