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How will Merced spend $225 million? Here’s a look

Merced CA looks to add new youth rec center to budget

The Merced City Council appears to be on its way to approving a $255 million spending plan, which could include a new recreation center on 27th and K streets, welcome signs and other new programs. (June 3, 2019)
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The Merced City Council appears to be on its way to approving a $255 million spending plan, which could include a new recreation center on 27th and K streets, welcome signs and other new programs. (June 3, 2019)

The Merced City Council appears to be on its way to approving a $255 million spending plan, which could include a new recreation center, welcome signs and other new programs.

The budget proposed budget is 8.6 percent larger than last year’s, and the $43.9 million general fund would be a 5 percent increase from a year ago.

The council showed support this week for refurbishing an unused fire station at 27th and K streets and making it a recreation center for young people. The city has two other recreation centers, both of which are in south Merced.

The initial improvements to the building are estimated at up to $35,000, according to city staffers. The center is expected to accrue ongoing costs for electricity and regular maintenance.

To staff the center, leaders said they would look to partner with a nonprofit like they do at McNamara and Stephen Leonard parks.

The budget would make some changes to citywide staffing but the overall number of employees would not change, according to Venus Rodriguez, the city’s finance director.

The earliest version of the budget showed a deficit of about $70,000, but the budget is expected to come in balanced following a savings in employee salaries for several positions that are currently empty, she said.

“This budget we’re very cautiously optimistic about the future. We’re not adding a whole lot of personnel,” Mayor Mike Murphy said on Tuesday. “We’re making good on our payments for those unfunded liabilities to (employee retirement plans).”

Some other projects the council is working to include:

  • Signs that would welcome commuters as they enter on major highways, as well as a downtown arch.
  • Quiet zones for the BNSF railroad tracks that pass by sleeping Merced residents throughout the night.
  • A roughly $10,000 donation of materials to be used for improvements at Applegate Park Zoo.
  • A voucher program for young people who couldn’t otherwise afford to participate in sports.
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