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By Jerry Bernstein
The Artesia City Council unanimously approved a resolution declaring the city is in a fiscal emergency at its June 11 meeting. City officials said historically the city has operated with fiscal prudence and caution without having to dip into the General Fund reserves. However the state takeaways in the last few years, including the state’s elimination of redevelopment agencies, has resulted in a significant decline in city revenues.
The resolution was approved in order to make the public aware of the fiscal emergency as the city continues budget discussions and deliberations.
Deputy City Manager and Finance Officer Justine Menzal said in approving the resolution, the council noted the state has taken more than $1.5 million from the city in order to reduce the state’s budget. This means approximately $1 million in annual future revenues the city has relied upon to fund various projects has been eliminated, putting into jeopardy projects that have been partially completed and which may require city funds to complete.
Menzal said the city’s general fund reserves, which are intended to protect the city in the event of a catastrophe and to provide the city with needed funds to handle unanticipated calamities, has declined by over $1 million in the last few years to approximately $2.7 million. The council noted this was not sufficient to absorb the cost of services and projects that was previously funded from other sources.
She said the city has already reduced the workforce by approximately 30 percent and reduced park and city facility hours to cut costs
The Council agreed the city will seek to maintain current levels of public safety and police services, including neighborhood patrols and crime and gang prevention programs. Other community services such as street maintenance may need to be further reduced, causing
city streets, roads, sidewalks and public infrastructure to deteriorate further and fall into disrepair.
The significant cost saving measures the city has employed in recent years to address the ongoing budget crisis will not be sufficient to avoid further cuts and community disruptions, she said, which will have a negative impact upon public safety and the character of the community in Artesia.
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