Business / Economy

COMMENTARY: Basic Budget 101 – City General Fund Expenditures

Most General Fund expenditures go to public safety and personnel

The previous article, Basic Budget 101 – City General Fund Revenues, detailed the funding sources of Hollister’s fiscal year 2015-2016, $19.4 million, General Fund (GF) – where the money comes from; this article will detail the GF expenditures – where the money goes.

GF expenditures fall into two broad categories, base (or recurring) and one-time expenses. The latter category can change significantly from year-to-year. For this budget, $17.3 million, 89 percent, were for base expenses and $2.1 million, 11 percent, were for one-time expenses. Some of the one-time expenses go to buying equipment and fulfilling obligations, others fund discretionary expenses.

The largest one-time GF expense in this budget was the proposal pay off an old $1.2 million CalPERS loan taken to fund increased employee retirement benefits; the payoff will save almost $400,000 in interest payments. The next largest one-time expense was $335,000 to cover the extra pay period that comes once every 11 years for all employees paid on a bi-weekly basis. The balance of one-time expenditures are scattered among 15 other items and the City Council, at times, changes the uses as needs develop.

All GF expenditures, base and one-time, can be categorized in one of two ways, by eight functions or four types; GF contract obligations such as those for fire and Animal Control are included.

Expenses by Functional Category:

Department                 Budget                % of Budget          Employees

Police                           $6.0 million                   31               29.7

Fire                              $5.2 million                   27               25.0

Administration             $2.2 million                  11                10.5

Development Serv.      $1.8 million                  9                  7.7

Non-Departmental      $1.5 million                   8                  0.0

Parks & Recreation      $1.4 million                   7                  4.7

Community Serv.         $0.8 million                   4                  2.5

Animal Control             $0.5 million                   3                  3.2

Total GF Budget          $19.4 million                100             83.3


Expenses by Type:

Type                               Budget                % of Budget

Personnel                      $13.2 million                68

Contractual                   $3.8 million                   20

Services & Supplies      $2.2 million                   11

Capital                            $0.2 million                   1

Total GF Budget           $19.4 million                100

Even taking into account the county fire contract it is easy to see that direct public safety expenses by function (58 percent) and personnel by type (68 percent) are the largest expenditures sectors in the GF budget.

Marty Richman

Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Marty (Martin G.) spent his teen years in northern New Jersey. He served more than 22 years on active military duty, mostly in Europe, and is a retired U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 4, Nuclear Weapons Technical Officer. Marty then worked 25 years in various engineering and management positions in the electronics and energetic materials industries supporting the communications, computer, aerospace, defense and automotive sectors. He is a graduate, summa cum laude, from The College of Hard Knocks, among his numerous awards and accomplishments. He was a regular weekly Op/Ed columnist and feature writer for The Hollister Free Lance for seven years and a member of its editorial board for five years. Marty is a frequent commentator and contributor to BenitoLink on a wide variety of local, state, national and international subjects.   Marty was elected to represent the City of Hollister District 4 on the City Council in November, 2018. Marty and his wife, Joyce, have been residents of Hollister since 1996.