Fasten safety belts and make sure tray tables are in the locked position: Phase 2 of Novato's post-recession economic game plan is about to begin.
The Novato City Council will dive into a "big picture" discussion Tuesday night to try and figure out the city's long-term financial situation.
The forecast doesn't look great according to a city staff report released for Tuesday's meeting (attached), but things could be so much worse. We could be faced with a Vallejo-Stockton scenario, falling backward into bankruptcy. But as part of Phase 1, city leaders made huge ongoing cuts two years ago and residents approved a sales tax increase to help elude the most ominous fiscal storms.
Three years ago, the city staff's five-year forecast showed an estimated budget deficit of $6.7 million for the 2014-2015 year. Now the projection is a $595,000 shortfall. "This is significant progress," the city staff said in its report.
Spending cuts, labor concessions, the Measure F sales-tax revenue and the elimination of a costly lease for city offices on Rowland Way (as new city offices are built in Old Town) are among the actions credited with closing the gap.
The start of Phase 2 includes Tuesday's chat about the five-year forecast model, options for sustainability and funding targets. Key questions about the level of services residents can expect from their local government are to be asked, touching on the always-prominent point about police protection. The revenue development side of things is expected to include frank talk about development of retail opportunities and new funding sources.
By January, the community will be asked about which services (recreation classes? street median maintenance? police?) are most necessary to our local government. What can you live without? What's absolutely vital?
The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at .