Hemet Council seeks ‘strategic plan’ before fiscal year 2017-18 budget approval

The majority of the Hemet City Council voted to delay the approval of the proposed 2017-2018 budget for at least several weeks to work out a “strategic plan” for the city and revise the way the budget should be presented.

Normally, a city’s Capital Improvement Plan and Operations budget should be approved by city council not later than July 1, but it can be delayed if the previous fiscal year budget is continued line by line so due bills can still be paid with the projected incoming revenues.

That is the action Hemet city council elected to do at the June 27 meeting, with the council planning to work out a strategic plan for the next fiscal year and Capital Improvement Plans the next five years with the revenues and expenditures kept up to date by each of the city departments.

Excluded from the delay were expenditures from anticipated Measure U sales tax revenues, earmarked for the police, fire and medical services in the city. New officers and firefighters hired in recent months will continue to be paid as contracted while the search for additional police and fire personnel will continue, in keeping with the spirit of Measure U.

The council also approved an amendment of the General Fund Reserve Policy ensuring Measure U funds will be directed exclusively to public safety, as voters have demanded.

All due bills coming to the city from the previous fiscal year will receive their payments after they come in, even with the budget approval delay.

Councilwomen Karlee Meyer and Bonnie Wright, along with Mayor Pro Tem Michael Perciful, voted “No” for the proposed 2017-18 General Fund and CIP budget. Mayor Linda Krupa and Councilman Russ Brown were in favor of approving the proposal.

Meyer said she “could not vote” for the proposed fiscal year 2017-18 CIP budget because the city had no “strategic plan,” outlining for residents’ special goals and projects with exact costs provided by each department head and the finance director.

In past years, the Hemet council has had no strategic plan, and thus, no way for residents to see and understand the city’s spending. Meyer said the staff had not provided the specific information she had asked for, and argued new councilmembers needed to see a strategic plan to know how to budget the city money properly.

The council will be meeting again, most likely in public session, to discuss a new city strategic plan and how future department-level fiscal year budget proposals should be by the city manager and the finance director.

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