Friday, December 4, 2009

Special Events Support The Community

Community Member Question:

In a blog the Mayor was asked why the city is having some of the events it has with the budget being tight? The Mayor had replied that in the future it would be something that may have to be looked at. My question is, “With the budget being strained in this economy, why does the city have public events that use needed funds?”

City Manager Response:

Thank you for the question. You are correct that the economy has strained the City of Fontana budget and the Mayor and City Council have directed staff to look at ways at reducing expenditures. In light of this direction, the City has cut 40 full-time positions and reduced in excess of $1.5 million from its current operating budget, beyond those reductions in staffing costs. These cuts have been made across all areas of the City, including the budget for special events.

Each and every special event was carefully scrutinized in putting together this year’s operating budget. This included the elimination of some of the community-wide special events. Despite those reductions to balance the budget, the City has left money in the budget to continue some of the city-wide special events as a service to the community of Fontana. While various special events will continue to take place, such as the Festival of Winter and the Christmas Parade, they will be taking place at reduced costs. The budget for these two special events has been cut by approximately $90,000 this year.

The City of Fontana, even with a downturn in the economy, still has a General Fund budget of approximately $80 million. With this money, the City attempts to provide a balance of services to the community which includes public safety, parks maintenance, graffiti removal, recreation programs, road maintenance, children’s programming, library services, special events, etc. The key to having a successful community is to provide a “balanced” level of services for the entire community in addition to creating a “balanced” budget.

As a City, we have a commitment to providing quality services and programs, especially during these tough economic times. This includes recreation and entertainment that many families may have had to cut from their personal budgets due to the effects of the down economy. Special events are free or low cost to the community, providing families with opportunities to spend quality time together, outside of their homes.

The City cannot provide all services to all people. We depend on community groups as our partners to provide a variety of programs and services to meet the needs of the community. Special events are important because they also provide an opportunity for many of the local community groups to raise funding that supports their programming efforts within Fontana. The elimination of all special events would significantly impact these groups, which would result in a compounding loss for individuals in the community that make use of the programs and services provided by these groups.

The City keeps a very close eye on the economic conditions of the community and will continue to live within its means. It is our sincere hope that the economy will continue to improve and that we will be in a position to increase services in the future to meet the needs of our growing community.