A letter from John Holt, City Manager City of Clovis

John Holt, City Manager for the City of Clovis

March 28, 2024 – As your City Manager, I am writing to inform you about the budget challenges that the City of Clovis is facing and obtain feedback from residents about your priorities as we consider further cuts as well as potential longer term solutions to ensure that Clovis continues to be the safest city in the Valley.

With unfunded mandates from California’s state government, takeaways of local funds, and inflation being what it has for the past few years, expenses for City operations are growing faster than the City’s revenue base. Between 2007 and 2023, we have seen a 39% increase in the population of the City.

Meanwhile, staffing levels for sworn personnel in both Police and Fire are at the same level or lower than they were in 2007.  During the great recession the number of sworn personnel were reduced driven by budget limitations. After 15 years, we are just now getting back to the number of sworn officers we had prior to the recession.

Currently, the City allocates approximately 90% of our General Fund discretionary budget to support our Police and Fire Departments. Even with this lopsided allocation, we’ve been forced to reduce important police services year after year in order to put more of our officers on patrol.

At the same time, while public safety is a top priority, this allocation poses challenges in balancing other essential services and addressing other important community needs like keeping our public areas safe and clean, maintaining local streets, and retaining our core small business community and local jobs.

To answer some recent questions we’ve received from community members, in governmental accounting, there is a concept known as the “Color of Money,” which dictates how funds can be spent.

Specifically, the City of Clovis can only utilize General Fund discretionary dollars to support our Police and Fire departments. This means that funds from other sources, such as the Water or Sewer fund, cannot be allocated to support Police and Fire services.

Sales Tax and Property Tax are the primary revenue sources for the General Fund, collectively constituting approximately two-thirds of its revenue. From the statewide sales tax of 7.25%, cities are allocated the equivalent of one penny per dollar spent.

For property taxes, we receive back approximately 14 cents of every dollar spent on property taxes. Unfortunately, not only are the majority of these funds taken by the state and other government agencies, these revenue streams are also incredibly volatile and subject to fluctuations based on economic conditions and external factors.

As we navigate these financial waters, we are exploring innovative approaches to ensure the continued provision of high-quality services. This may involve a comprehensive review of city operations, prioritizing projects, and continuing to seek input from our employees and residents on their preferences for the allocation of resources. To get more information on these efforts and share your feedback, please visit https://cityofclovis.com/maintainingclovis/.

Thank you for your attention to this matter, and please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or concerns regarding the City’s finances.