TUSTIN : Despite Recession, City Staying in Black

The recession is taking its toll here with projected decreases in property and sales taxes, but finance officials said the city will not end the fiscal year in the red.

On the contrary, the city is expected to have a general fund balance of $158,567 at the end of the 1991-92 fiscal year, according to figures in a revised, $60.5-million budget reviewed by the City Council on Tuesday.

"The good news for us is that we are better off than most," City Manager William A. Huston said. "We are confident (the budget) can continue to be balanced," he said.

Early in the fiscal year, the city instituted a partial hiring freeze and asked each department to cut spending by about 5% to balance revenues and expenditures, said Irma Hernandez, administrative assistant to the finance director. About 10 positions remain vacant as a result of the hiring freeze.

Property taxes are expected to total about $4.3 million this fiscal year, according to the mid-fiscal-year budget revision. Early projections put property tax revenues at more than $4.5 million, a difference of about $200,000.

Projected sales tax revenues also take a plunge of more than $400,000. Original projections called for more than $9.9 million in sales tax revenues, but the revised budget reduces that amount to about $9.5 million for the fiscal year.

"We are still looking at real growth in sales taxes from the previous year," said Ron Nault, city finance director. Nault said that despite the shortfall in projections, the city is still showing about a 3%, or $280,000, increase in sale taxes over the previous fiscal year.

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