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Will rate hikes be needed to beef up City of Lodi revenues?

Wes Bowers, Lodi News-Sentinel, Calif.  


    May 17—The City of Lodi's enterprise and special revenue funds are in good shape, for now, according to staff.

    But in the coming years, revenues could be significantly lower if rates such as electricity and water are not increased.

    Staff presented its second of three budget information overviews to the Lodi City Council during a Tuesday morning shirtsleeve meeting.

    Enterprise funds, deputy city manager Andrew Keys said, are revenues set aside for specific reasons, such as Lodi Electric Utility, waste water, water and transit.

    Special revenue funds, he added, are used to support street maintenance, capital projects and vehicle and equipment replacement.

    These revenues are also used to fund the Lodi Public Library, as well as Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services.

    Keys said revenues for the electric utility are expected to be about $299,000 higher in fiscal year 2023-24, with a total of $97.6 million.

    The increase is due to nearly $3.8 million in customer charges, he said, which in turn are higher due to increases in power supply costs.

    However, development impact fees and reimbursable costs are lower, and the electric utility expects to have an ending fund balance of $26.8 million during the fiscal year. That ending fund balance is 27% lower than the current fiscal year, Keys said.

    "We're still in a healthy position, even under what's shown here," he said. "But what is not included here is a proposed rate increase which would help to boost our bottom line and keep us not only in a better position through the term, but going forward."

    Rates are proposed to increase by 2% in the next two fiscal years, according to Tuesday's presentation. Then, through fiscal years 2025-26 and 2027-28, no rate increase is forecast

    Electric utility expenditures are nearly $2.2 million lower next fiscal year, due in part to $4.3 million in reimbursed state funds for the power plant currently being built near Lodi Lake.

    Water utility revenues will be $98,250 lower next fiscal year for a total of more than $15.2 million.

    But expenses will also be lower, to the tune of a little more than $1 million and a total of $16.6 million.

    Wastewater revenues are expected to be nearly $19.5 million, an increase of nearly $390,000, and expenditures should be $22.6 million, which is $8.9 million lower than the current fiscal year.

    Staff said lower expenditures are due to capital projects and equipment costs being nearly $9.8 million lower than expected.

    The parks department should see $8.5 million in revenues, an increase of $666,470 over the current fiscal year. The increase is due in part to charges for services totaling $517,290 after reopening programs that were shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    In addition, the department should see an increase in Measure L funds totaling $110,910.

    However, expenses are anticipated to be higher by $987,260 due to salary and benefit increases, as well as increases in supplies and services.

    Lastly, library revenues will be $361,920 lower despite a Measure L funding increase of $43,630.

    However, expenses will be $663,380 lower, as well.

    "I'm very concerned about the future of our parks and rec in terms of revenue," Vice Mayor Lisa Craig said. "Parks and rec is recognized as a high priority for us in terms of strategic priorities, so I'd request after (budget approvals in the summer) we have a shirtsleeve to discuss options to plan for the long term."

    No action was taken on the presentation Tuesday.

    An overview of capital projects will be presented at the May 28 shirtsleeve meeting.

    The council will consider adopting the 2023-24 budget at its regular June 7 meeting. If no decision is made at that time, the council must adopt the budget on June 21.


    (c)2023 the Lodi News-Sentinel (Lodi, Calif.)

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