I have many years of experience running organizations with extremely tight budgets. I can squeeze a dime out of every penny. Having said that - there are definitely times when it is important to invest. I'll share with you how I make these decisions, what I believe is important right now - and how this will help us as a City for many years to come.
It's going to take a team of leaders working together, putting their differences aside to lead us through these challenging times. We need City Council members who can identify needs, analyze data, evaluate results and think strategically, objectively and creatively. And we need to engage our residents in the decision-making process. I will listen to residents, discuss issues thoroughly, consider their input and then communicate the reasons for decisions clearly to the community.
Cypress has a long successful history of being fiscally responsible with the resources that the residents entrusted to the city leaders. We currently have reserves of $150 million. However, coming out of the pandemic, Covid will have a near-term negative effect on the budget by impacting revenue sources such as sales tax, hotel tax and other similar types of revenue. The current assumptions in the budget include:
·Ongoing economic uncertainty due to COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on revenues
· No changes (or additions) to current staffing or service levels
· No tax increases
· No significant new sources of revenue
· Sales Tax projections are based on estimates provided by the City’s Sales Tax consultant
· Property Tax grows two percent annually
·Salary component of personnel expenditures increase in accordance with current labor agreements
As we look to the future, reserve use is acceptable in the short term for critical projects, however not a viable long-term solution for addressing the projected deficit. We need to develop budgets and spending plans that address the needs of the community in a fiscally responsible way.
The leaders will need to review the priorities in the on-going strategic plan and ensure resources are available for the highest priority projects. We will have to look at all of the services we provide, look for ways to be more efficient and occasionally make difficult decisions. We also may need to spend in the short term to reduce negative consequences in the long-term - particularly in the areas of public safety and infrastructure. And we need to listen to the residents, consider their input and then communicate the reasons for decisions clearly to the community.