I believe that in addition to cost saving measures we should be looking at revenue generating measures. To increase revenues; we have several projects in town that have already received approvals, such as portions of the Business Park. This project has been waiting for the city to move forward. This one project will bring much needed revenue and jobs to the city. 2) We need to review our contracts with city consultants /contractors. How much is the city paying for these consultants and contractors? On at least two occasions, the city council had been asked to show the benefits of laying off employees and replacing them with consultants and contract employees. To date no answer has been provided. The city council needs to stop making emotional decisions on fiscal issues. Regarding the pool, we must explore all options to reduce cost and increase users. The city should offer a monthly pass, just like gyms, not just pay to swim passes. The reoccurring monthly fees would help the pool budget and allow the users to gain greater access to the pool. We should work with our youth groups more and advertise the Kiddie Play area which is available for party rentals. If we market it properly the use of the pool and hopefully the track, combined with our back country roads we have an excellent Triathlon training facility. The city should accept American Water’s offer to pay for the pool chemicals. We need to look at the possibility of privatizing pool operations and maintenance thereby turning it into a revenue source. The pool is something that we should take pride in, but we need to be practical and ensure that the pool is self-sustaining.
One of the first things I would do to cut expenses is ask the team members (staff) for ideas within areas they feel could be streamlined. They (the staff) handle the day to day operations of the city and are a great starting point for ideas and collaboration. They are also motivated to find creative ways of reducing expenses.
Additionally, staff needs to be cross trained to make it easier for them to handle more functions. In a small business the ability to do several jobs is essential. The city has gone through a transformation and there are fewer people to get the work done. Having a better trained, versatile team can help cover gaps in our staffing shortage and eliminate the need to pay consultants or “temps” to provide city services. This will help the community to be better served.
Secondly, I would focus on areas where we can create revenue for the city. For example, the community pool, I would like to see us explore offering a monthly membership option for unlimited swimming similar to a gym membership. At most gyms people have the option of paying per visit, by the month, or by the year. Most people find it more convenient to pay by the month or pay by the year. This business model has been proven to be beneficial to both parties. The service provider is assured a predictable and constant revenue stream from members for the duration of their agreement. This reduces uncertainty, risk and often provides advance payment. It also encourages customers to become attached to using the service and consequently more likely to renew their membership.
Thirdly, we also need to explore finding some grants for providing swimming programs for youth, seniors, students, etc. that can help with the operating costs.
With so many budgetary constraints in Fillmore, it is more prudent to consider more revenue enhancing ideas. Cuts to nearly every level of city services, and the streamlining of staffing has generated sizable cost savings; these could be sustainable for the foreseeable future. Fillmore needs more sources for income. Some considerations might include:
Continuing on-going dialog and relationships with individuals representing the filming industry to maintain steady income.
Re-zoning the downtown to include diversity in business and modifying the permit process to stimulate growth.
Adding additional events to attract tourism which includes fees and permits.
The community pool is operating in a serious deficit situation. Revenues to maintain and keep the pool operational may need to be supported through private and business donations. Some considerations might be a series of fundraising events or perhaps seeking grant options. Another possibility of increasing revenues would be to gradually increase use fees.
With city budgets shrinking, what cost saving measures would you propose/consider? What funding avenues/changes would you make concerning the community pool?
We have to go after the opportunities that are immediately within reach and that means seriously considering taking up American Water’s offer to donate a year’s worth of pool chemicals which will save the pool operations budget approximately $25,000 a year. We have to consider different sales strategies such as selling 3 month/ 6 month/ and annual swim passes for instance. It would be worthwhile to also look into the feasibility of promoting the rental of the facility for private events.
Finally, I think the community would also be better served through the formation of a committee of three persons to assist the council with furthering ideas and plans for fundraising, marketing and use of our community pool and help putting these plans into action. It is going to take a great effort from the community to keep our pool open given our current financial situation, but it’s a challenge I look forward to take on.
I believe we can find more cost saving measures. Our biggest General Fund expenses are public safety, with Police about $3 million and Fire about $780,000. While we have already tried to reduce those costs in the past, we need to revisit those items since they represent the biggest part of the General Fund. Resolving Sales Tax litigation, El Dorado and other legal issues will help to reduce costs and we are looking at all of those. As far as pool funding, I would like to see the existing programs marketed and new programs added. I would also like to work on a detailed analysis of expenses to see if operational costs can be reduced. We negotiated a plan for American Water to provide pool chemicals and perhaps some other entities or companies could contribute to other costs.