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August 14, 2020

Guest Column: City of King’s efforts to maintain a balanced budget

By Steve Adams, King City Manager

The City of King conducts a citywide survey every two years to get feedback from the public on customer satisfaction and to help prioritize the use of available resources. The City recently completed tabulating the results of the 2020 survey and the highest priority identified by respondents was efforts to establish long-term financial stability.

The City is taking that responsibility seriously as can be seen in the recent amendments approved by the City Council to the Fiscal Year 2020-21 Budget. 

King City experienced a major financial crisis over the course of many years due primarily to the loss of major businesses and employers, a failed redevelopment project, increased poverty and a police scandal. In 2014, the California Policy Center ranked King City the second most financially distressed city in California, and the negative balance in the City’s $7.5 million General Fund reached approximately $5 million by 2016.

Since then, through a concentrated effort consisting largely of one-time revenue strategies, the City has made significant progress in reducing the negative fund balance to about $1.6 million while at the same time accomplishing other major goals. Therefore, the stakes are too high to risk allowing the financial impacts of the current pandemic to jeopardize this progress. As a result, the City has taken a number of proactive steps to ensure it maintains a balanced budget over the upcoming fiscal year.

Due to a combination of the impacts of Covid-19 and delays in cannabis projects becoming operational, a substantial deficit was projected for Fiscal Year 2020-21.

In May, the City responded with a comprehensive budget plan that consists of approximately $3 million in reduced expenditures, while avoiding layoffs or reductions in any of the City’s critical base services. Measures include eliminating funding for capital projects, maintenance projects, most discretionary programs, new positions and employee cost-of-living salary adjustments, as well as a hiring freeze and a reduction in contract staff hours.

The most difficult impact is probably the closure of the City pool complex for the 2020 summer season. Operation of the pool is a very high-cost item and opening would have been challenging to meet necessary safety requirements to prevent the spread of Covid-19. To help mitigate some of the impact, the splash pad at the City Park next to the Recreation Center is now open to help children cool off from the summer heat, and the City is working on offering other summer youth recreation programs that can meet Covid-19 restrictions.

Meanwhile the City has stepped up its efforts to apply for grants in order to find other ways to continue making improvements to the community. The City would like to emphasize that the budget plan is much more than just a list of budget cuts. It will involve some temporary sacrifices, but it is a strategic plan designed to position the City to come back strong once the current crisis is over.

The City appreciates the cooperation of the community during this challenging time in order to make the plan a success.


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