Petaluma looks to rebuild emergency fund as budget picture brightens

Petaluma City Council members will get their first look at the upcoming year's budget during a special hearing tonight at City Hall.

The $35 million in the general fund — the budget that pays for most city salaries, benefits and services — is 5.4 percent higher than the previous year's. All of that $1.8 million increase, City Manager John Brown said, is related to salaries and benefits for city employees.

Though the budget is balanced, it doesn't rely on program and service reductions, or pay cuts and furloughs for employees, as in the previous five years.

Instead, balance is achieved by holding the line on costs the city can control, using carryover funds from last year and taking advantage of increased tax revenues.

The budget also begins shoring up the city's emergency fund, which had been drawn down to nearly zero in the past few years.

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