The Livingston City Council on Tuesday adopted its 2015-16 budget, which reflects its first surplus in four years.
With general fund revenues of $5.18 million and expenditures of $4.86 million, the city projects a surplus of about $320,000. The council approved the budget with a 4-0 vote as Councilman Jim Soria was absent.
The general fund spending reflects an increase of about 1 percent from last year, but the city is still short of prerecession numbers.
Both property and sales tax revenues are expected to rise in Livingston, according to Odi Ortiz, interim city manager. The improved standing will allow the city to do away with furloughs and restore the 5 percent pay cut city workers agreed to last year, he said.
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The city will look to fill some of the positions eliminated to balance the budget in past years, Ortiz said.
Livingston has seen unstable tax revenue in recent years, he said.
“We are very sensitive to gas and diesel prices,” he said.
About 57 percent of the general fund goes to police, while 10 percent each goesto the recreation and administration departments.
At the same meeting, the council announced it reached agreements with three unions – the Livingston Police Officers Association; Management and Confidential Employees and Association Unit; and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
The city agreed to give raises of 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent to employees depending on their unions over the next three years. The city did not figure the raises into the budget it adopted on Tuesday, Ortiz said, saying the city will adjust the budget at the midyear review.
Mayor Pro-Tem Gurpal Samra said this year is the first he’s seen a multiyear deal with the unions during his time with the council. He joined it in 1998.
Samra said agreeing on a long-term deal frees up the council and city employees to focus on other projects. He also said “it’s a very good thing” to see a surplus after years of cuts and layoffs.
In 2011, the city saw a deficit of about $1 million.
“That’s a big turnaround,” he said. “First you wipe out all your deficit; now you have a surplus.”