Fillmore Moves Forward on Sound Footing
A Fillmore Fire Fighter Foundation Proclamation was presented by Mayo Manuel Mijares (right) to (l-r) Scott Klittich, Mike Bush, Scott Beylik, Mike Richardson, and Bill Morris for the generous contributions to Fillmore’s Fire Department.
A Fillmore Fire Fighter Foundation Proclamation was presented by Mayo Manuel Mijares (right) to (l-r) Scott Klittich, Mike Bush, Scott Beylik, Mike Richardson, and Bill Morris for the generous contributions to Fillmore’s Fire Department.

Tuesday’s City Council meeting began with a Fillmore Fire Fighter Foundation Proclamation presented to Scott Beylik, Mike Bush, Mike Richardson, Bill Morris and Scott Klittich for the generous contributions to Fillmore's Fire Department. But the main focus of the June 10, 2014 Fillmore City Council Meeting was Fillmore's Financial Director Gaylynn Brien presentation of a balanced FY 2014-2015 Budget. Revenue (money in) has not exceeded expenditures (money out) for number of years, so having a balanced budget is very good news. The Budget can be found on the City's website and at the Fillmore Library.

The next year Fillmore expects 36 new residential building permits and 8,320 square feet of non-residential development that will generate $182,729 in permit revenue with the current year estimates of 16 residential projects generating an additional $76,800. This is a projected increase of 138% or by almost $106,000. Property taxes have increased 1.69% adding an additional increase of $20,000.

The biggest increase came as a result of the sales tax sharing agreement; where businesses, that moved to Fillmore because of the agreement, share tax rebates from the Board of Equalization (BOE) with Fillmore. A long court dispute over who should receive the funds was resolved in last year in Fillmore's favor and the BOE has released $14 million in "back taxes" but is still holding $5.2 million of previous taxes and $1.4 million of this year’s taxes, leaving a total of $6.8 million withheld. Of that $6.8 million, Fillmore is expected to receive $1.3 million as its share, and $1.58 million as sales tax revenue on an ongoing basis.

Fillmore, like other cities, carries many different accounts on their books. These various accounts cover such things as the operation of the city and its staff, special revenue/districts, bond payment, capital funds/projects and Successor Agency (formerly Redevelopment) to name a few. Some expenditures come out of the General Fund and others have separate funding. Fillmore's total expenditure for all funds combined, not just the general fund, is $28,526,696 with a total revenue for all funds at $30,250,719 leaving an overall increase of $1,724,023 with revenue exceeding expenditures.

The FY 2014-15 revenue budget in the general fund is $6,578,384, almost $500,000 more than the current FY 2013-14 budget of $6.1 million and the expenditure budget is $6,577,439 which is $400,000 more than the FY 2013-14 budget of $6.18 million. Most of the increase in costs is a result of Planning (due to growth) and Police Services.

There was some bad news for residents who receive water and sewer bills; the Budget includes a 3% sewer rate increase on July 1, 2014, from $89.60 to $92.29 and a 3% increase in water rates January 1, 2015 from $36.88 to $37.99. The total will be a change in the minimum residential rate of both water and sewer from $126.48 to $130.27 per month. This rate is much higher than most other comparable cities and could become a hardship on residents.

Council Member Douglas Tucker had questions regarding funding to improve the City's website and thought it could use improvement, adding that it is the first thing many people see when considering coming or moving to Fillmore. Brien responded, "We can start planning that project." Tucker also informed the other Board Members he would like to see the return of the Gang Officer. Police Chief Dave Wareham responded, "We're on five years of Gang Intervention Grants, we can guess how long the state will issue grants to Fillmore for that purpose."
Concern was expressed over the increased cost of public safety. Council Member Steve Conaway stated that in small towns such as Fillmore it is common that 50% of the budget go to public safety. Council Member Diane McCall expressed concerns that the Rate Stabilization Fund be kept in good shape (the fund that prevents huge spikes in water and sewer fees). She also questioned where the estimate numbers on the increased Building Permit revenue was coming from. Planning Department Kevin McSweeney responded, "The Williams Homes Development Impact Fees will conservatively produce the amount estimated."

An agenda item that got unanimous approval was the implementation of a Season Pass to the Aquatics Center for $100. There are monthly payment plans available.

Fire Chief Rigo Landeros asked the Council to approve the $14,500 needed for the July 4th Fireworks Celebration. The money is completely funded by the nonprofits that sell fireworks in their booths along with funding from the Fillmore Western Train. This year the celebration will be an extra 8 minutes and added fireworks during the finale to celebrate Fillmore's 100 Year Centennial.

Landeros also warned of illegal fireworks and the $1,200 fine per citation. He went on to say that if the illegal fireworks continue to be a problem, there is a possibility that the State may revoke Fillmore's legal ability to sell them. He also informed everyone that to combine the legal fireworks or altered them in such a way not intended for their use was illegal and they are then considered an explosive.