FRESH DIRT > The Santa Cruz City Council approved a $69.8 million 2012 budget in a unanimous vote at their Tuesday, July 12 meeting. Jack Dilles, the city’s finance director, emphasized that Santa Cruz is “better off than we thought,” as he explained a $580,000 reduction in the projected deficit. The deficit, which was originally $2.6 million, shrank to $2 million due to unexpected state funds and austerity measures taken by the city. By December, the deficit will again drop to $1 million, provided that the city taps $1 million in reserves.
Contributing to the reduction, Dilles cited an unexpected law enforcement fund from the state, which was quite a surprise to the city and the Police Department, since the budget has increased by $88,000 this past year. The budget increase is due in part to police presence at special events or on certain holidays, such as Fourth of July. Furthermore, the budget for cultural tourism has been reduced to $20,000, but is still pending approval. With an estimated three million tourists this summer alone, the City of Santa Cruz relies heavily on tourism dollars to support its economy.
City employees, including police, executives and firefighters, also reduced the deficit by agreeing to a 10 percent compensation reduction. The projected deficit assumes that the city’s labor employees will concede to similar measures.