Serious crimes dent Colusa police budget
The number of serious crimes in Colusa, including a murder, has exacted a toll on the Police Department budget.
"I hate to say it, but murders are expensive," Chief Ross Stark told the City Council at a budget review session on Thursday afternoon.
The Police Department has a budget of $1,036,104, the largest within the General Fund.
Stark said that down the road the department will need a detective-investigator as well as a new building. The current office was built in 1905 and has limited room.
He is searching for funding options, as well as a site that won't take up space that could be potential income generation for the city. He said he doesn't want to build where a developer could invest.
Stark addressed the potential impact to his budget due to the various annexation projects in the pipeline.
He said he expects Walnut Ranch to have little to no impact, but added that Colusa Industrial Complex could depending on the kind of development, and the Sacramento River state park could have a large impact depending on how much of the area the city annexes. His primary concern there is access to the wildland area.
Stark said the Colusa Crossings annexation would have no impact, "as long as it stays dirt."
The council discussed budget priorities, including maintaining public safety, having a budget that does not cut into reserves, creating a three- to five-year financial plan, and exploring ways to expand revenue sources with economic development.
Smith & Newell conducted the audit and reported past problems have largely been corrected and that the city finances are in better shape than other municipalities.
"The finances were materially correct," said Marilee Smith, with Smith & Newell.
"It's reassuring to see a city acting in a prudent way."
Mayor Tom Reische gave credit to Interim City Manager Randy Dunn and Administrative Office Manager Toni Benson for the improvement.
Smith also stated that the city finances were in a better state than others.
However, the review also showed that some revenue expectations, such as sales tax and permitting fees, were slightly below budget. That was blamed on the sluggish economy.
Michael Barrett, head of Building and Code Enforcement, said that he is hoping a bump in permitting in the last few months is a sign of better times for development in Colusa.
He described $5,000 revenue from fees in March for a new apartment complex on the 300 block of Main Street.
In addition, an outstanding debt owed to the city in the amount of $408,000 in development fees was brought up. Benson said the fees were accumulated in 2006, but the city has yet to collect.