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Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Chico Council approves budget of $211.1 million

CHICO – Chico City Council approved its 2022/2023 fiscal year budget in a 6-1 vote based on recommendations from interim city manager Paul Hahn and various department heads.

A special meeting was held at 1 pm before the normally scheduled 6 pm meeting for the council to fully hear the department heads about their requests as well as their plans for funding .

Hahn began the presentation by providing context for the Council in times of economic crisis. Han explained concerns about the supply chain and uncertain financial future for the state of California before handing the presentation over to Deputy Director of Finance Barbara Martin.

Martin broke down some of the new features tied to the city’s budget. For example, city staff requested that changes to the funding allocation or amendments under $100,000 no longer be brought to the council, but placed in a new summary report that the council and the public could review. He said this was standard practice for many municipalities.

Dollars that move from year to year that are not considered a rollover from the previous budget will still require council approval.

A new fund has also been created that bundles together all road and road projects that were previously distributed among different funds.

Once the changes were presented to the council, each department head made their presentation.

Police Department

The most well-funded department, coming in at less than $32.49 million this year, was the Chico Police Department presented by Police Chief Matt Madden.

There is an expected personnel cost of slightly less than $26.6 million which includes salaries and benefits for employees, of whom there are 171 in the department.

Instead of seeking additional police officers this year, Madden requested five new employees in other sections of its operation. This included an evidence technician, two new community service officers and two dispatchers.

One goal of both the police and fire departments this year is to split the singular dispatch office into two parts, one that handles police services and the other for fires. The plan here, Madden said, is to provide the fire department with three dispatchers currently employed in the city and to hire two additional people to provide services for the police department.

Madden explained that the types of calls for the two departments are very different and that by splitting into two factions, it would allow dispatchers to be more efficient for both ends.

The police chief noted some of the other expenses planned for the department such as changing its 15 firearms from lethal to non-lethal.

“That type of firearm I think isn’t really suitable for an urban area like Chico’s,” Madden said, adding that with the conversion, officers would start keeping a firearm in their patrol vehicles instead of being locked into observer vehicles. ,

Another plan Madden demonstrated was a virtual reality system to allow for more intensive training for officers. The cost of a system and software subscription is $15,509 for the year.

public work

The city of Chico has two separate Public Works Departments. One focuses on operation and maintenance while the other focuses on engineering.

Eric Gustafson led the presentation for Operations and Maintenance, which is receiving a budget of approximately $25.46 million.

Gustafson’s department has 91 employees and the personnel cost is $11.34 million.

In broader terms, Gustafsson said the Public Works Operations and Maintenance Department has set its sights on enhancing infrastructure and recreational facilities to create more inviting spaces for the public.

The department oversees 10 divisions such as road cleaning, facilities, traffic safety, parking meters, airport and waste water treatment.

A new division Gustafsson was presented which was the outreach and engagement for the city’s new pallet shelter as well as cleaning up the camp.

While there were several areas in which Gustafsson said he felt he had enough staff, such as the new camp cleaning department and sidewalk maintenance, his department was struggling with other aspects such as road repairs and traffic signs.

Gustafsson said it takes about 6 to 10 months for road maintenance to receive each service request due to the huge backlog of work.

As for the new employees, Gustafsson said that the council has appointed a new laboratory technician and a senior industrial mechanic for the wastewater treatment plant, two new workers for the maintenance of the trees, a senior maintenance worker for the parks and for the city’s vehicle fleet. A mechanic allowed.

With regard to the management and repair of the city’s vehicles, Gustafsson said the department previously had one mechanic for every 76 vehicles when the industry standard ranged from one to 40.

Public Works Director of Engineering Leigh Ann Sutton provided the presentation for her department, which oversees 37 employees and will receive a budget of approximately $6.84 million.

fire Department

Chico Fire Chief Steve Standridge breaks down the budget and goals of the Chico Fire Department, as well as some of the more expensive items in the form of new fire engines.

The goals included long-term permanent staffing as well as emergency pre-planning and other preparedness work.

World Nation News Desk
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