Campbell council president calls for freeze on nonessential spending

By Sarah Lehr


City Council President George Levendis has called for a temporary freeze on “nonessential” spending.

Levendis, who chairs the finance committee, expressed concern this week about a potential year-end deficit of about $84,000 in the general fund. Those numbers derive from Finance Director Michael Evanson’s projected 2017 appropriations and expenditures.

Council passed a budget this week with $3,156,569 appropriated for the general fund and $9,812,837 appropriated overall. Levendis, however, said council would need to amend the budget in order to avoid going into the red by the end of 2017. He added that he believed the necessary adjustments would be possible, but urged city leaders to curb spending in the interim.

To address the issue, council will convene for a special finance meeting 6 p.m. next Wednesday. Additionally, at the city’s request, representatives from the state auditor’s office will meet each month with city officials until no longer needed.

“Whether we realized it or not, we kept nibbling away, nibbling away at all the crumbs,” Evanson said of why 2017’s spending is expected to exceed the money appropriated. “What’s happened is the crumbs have now turned into slices of bread and will turn into a whole loaf if we’re not careful. We’re on that threshold now and some extra caution is advisable.”

In 2016, the city appropriated $10,181,655 and spent about $9,395,334 of that money.

The city was in state-designated fiscal emergency from 2004 to 2013. When it entered fiscal emergency, the city had an aggregate deficit totaling $598,128 from seven funds.

Also during Wednesday’s meeting, council introduced legislation to set pay for the newly-appointed police Chief Dennis Puskarcik at $48,500 annually. City leaders agreed to revisit the chief’s salary in six months.

The salary, which council is slated to pass after two more readings, is more than Puskarcik would have made under the previous pay ordinance, but less than the former chief, Drew Rauzan, had been making.

Council this month repealed a 2015 pay ordinance that had set the chief’s first-year pay at $47,000 with a high school degree, $50,337 with a bachelor’s degree and $53,675 with a master’s degree or higher. Puskarcik has a high school degree and Rauzan has a master’s degree in law. The new pay ordinance does not differentiate based on education level.

Additionally, council is reviewing legislation to bring five-year renewal of a 3-mill roads levy to the ballot. If approved by voters, renewal of the existing tax would generate $198,340 annually and cost the owner of a $100,000 home $105 per year. The city uses its road-levy revenue in conjunction with matching grants from the state.

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