Council approves budget, letter for overpass project

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The Winters City Council unanimously approved a budget for next fiscal year and ratified a letter sent to representative John Garamendi expressing the city’s commitment to an overpass project over I-505 and asking for funding for the project at the  June 1 meeting. 

The fiscal year 2021-22 budget was first presented to the council at a meeting last month for the purpose of receiving input. The only change since the May meeting is that $5,000 was added to the city’s sidewalk repair fund, said Shelly Gunby, the city’s director of financial management.

That move takes the sidewalk repair fund, which is funded through the city’s gas tax, from $15,000 to $20,000. Mayor Pro-Tempore Bill Biasi said he appreciated the additional money being put into city sidewalks, even if it wouldn’t be enough to fix all sidewalks. 

The approved budget adds up to about $6.7 million dollars, with a forecasted surplus of about $10,000, according to the staff report. Additional funding received from the American Rescue Plan will be incorporated into the budget over the summer. 

When adopting the current operating budget last June, the city anticipated a decrease in revenues because of COVID-19 and made significant cuts — such as not replacing several city staff positions — according to Gunby. But now, the city is expecting to receive $420,000 more in general fund revenue than originally anticipated. That means the city is expecting a small budget surplus of about $63,000 in the current budget, which is quite different from the past four years, where the city ran into deficits that have required the use of reserves. 

Letter to Garamendi

City Manager Kathleen Salguero Trepa said there’s been significant advocacy in recent months for the I-505 overpass project; Garamendi expressed interest during a meeting last month in earmarking federal funding for the project. 

Trepa added that the city received news in May that the congressman was going to include the project in the transportation bill currently before Congress in order to potentially commit $8.5 million in federal funds to the project. Overall, Trepa said, the city estimated the project would cost $10 million. 

“If it passes Congress and is signed by President Biden, we would receive $8.5 million from the federal government for the overpass project,” Trepa said. “Then we would need to line up some additional funding which we feel might come from the state transportation bill.”

Trepa said the city is looking to make up the difference in cost through state funding. According to the agenda documents, the city has worked for years to secure funding for the project, which would better connect the east side of I-505 to services, schools and amenities in Winters. Funding the project is a priority from a social equity and safety standpoint, according to the agenda documents. 

“It feels as if we’re very close to being able to get the funding to take this project over the finish line,” Trepa said.

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