Growing revenues and growing staff for the City of Lodi

Mar. 4—The City of Lodi will be adding four new full-time positions to its staff next fiscal year — including an assistant city attorney and a police officer — thanks to budget adjustments to three revenue sources that have been performing better than anticipated.

Along with an assistant city attorney and police officer, two new positions will be a dispatch supervisor and substation technician.

The Lodi City Council on Wednesday voted 4-0 to approve the positions, along with the mid-year budget presented by Deputy City Manager Andrew Keys during its regular meeting.

Keys said the city's general fund, the electric utility fund and the vehicle equipment replacement fund, have all performed better than expected since the adoption of the 2022-23 fiscal year budget in June.

At that time, the council approved $73.9 million in the general fund.

Keys said initial revised budget numbers revealed the general fund actually had $74.8 million, but as of Wednesday, the city was expecting to end the fiscal year with $78.2 million — a $3.4 million difference from last June.

"That sounds like a really big number, but the large majority of that comes from the power plant the council approved in December," he said. "That will bring money into the general fund, so that is really not traditional general fund revenue the city would have for any serious programming."

In November, the city council approved an agreement to site a natural gas power plant near Lodi Lake that would keep power on in the city during periods of extreme heat.

The move to build such a facility comes after extreme heat in September caused a substation failure that knocked out power for six hours.

The electric utility fund is expected to have $1.4 million more than anticipated last June, and the vehicle equipment replacement fund is expected to have $159,000 more than first projected as well, Keys said.

According to Wednesday's staff report, the city attorney's annual cost is expected to be $276,950, while the cost for the new police officer will be $190,000.

The annual cost for a dispatch supervisor will be $166,830, and the cost for a substation technician will be $246,230.

"I'd like the citizens to understand that this is not the first time we're seeing this," councilman Alan Nakanishi said. "We've seen this throughout the year, and it shows we're in a better state than we've been in before."

Council to get

cell phones

The city council also voted 4-0 to provide itself cellular phones to conduct official city business.

City manager Steve Schwabauer said everything the council does related to city business is public record, even if discussions are made with use of their personal devices.

"It occurred to me that it would make a lot of sense to make it easier that if you were doing that sort of business, to separate your personal life and your council responsibility," he said. "Having a cell phone that is just a city cell phone would help do that."

According to Wednesday's staff report, each device would cost about $50, and the monthly fee would be about $45.

Vice Mayor Lisa Craig said she had been thinking about suggesting the council have cell phones specifically to conduct city business as her personal phone number is public record and didn't it want it to be public anymore.

"This is my challenge right now," she said. "To have the city number assigned to us be transferred to our cell phones. I think that's the only compelling reason for me. I'm not a big one for adding costs, but in this particular instance, that convenience is extremely important."

Councilman Cameron Bregman said issuing cell phones to himself and colleagues was something other cities have been doing for a while.

"This is not irregular from other cities," he said. "When we went to the California League of Cities conference, there wasn't one elected official I didn't see with two phones. It would help myself to do my duties better and separate my personal business from city business."