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Fountain Valley ends year with budget surplus

The city outsourced, renegotiated employee contracts, offered early retirements, but did not issue layoffs.

November 02, 2011|By Mona Shadia

Unlike many neighboring cities that have been scraping the bottom of the barrel to get by financially, Fountain Valley ended last year with a surplus and is on track to finish this year in the black as well.

The city ended last year with a $1.3-million surplus, said Finance Director Sherri Holman.

"It's a wonderful feeling," she said. "It gives you a sense of pride, and it's comforting. We did have to work hard to get there."

Fountain Valley did almost everything neighboring Huntington Beach, Costa Mesa and Newport Beach did in light of the economic downfall, except issue layoffs.

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Fountain Valley offered early retirement, outsourced some services and renegotiated employee contracts to save wherever possible.

"We started realizing back in late 2008 that we were going to have a problem," Holman said. "We started looking at all of our services and things that we can contract out, and things we can do more efficiently."

Right away, the city saved $5 million, which included $2.3 million from 17 early-retirement offers.

"As a position became vacant, we looked at it and decided whether or not we needed to fill it or do reorganization to cover the work," she said.

In most cases, the city didn't replace the positions.

Fountain Valley also outsourced services like tree trimming and park maintenance. They also leased property to bring in additional revenue.

Holman said the city has always been frugal with its finances, but in the last few years, it upped the ante and only spent money on the essentials.

"The last two years have been very difficult in making the hard financial decisions," she said. "But our council, the city manager and all of the departments stuck together and were very determined. Everybody really pulled together."

The city is looking at further cuts, including deciding if it can contract out some fire services or have the Orange County Fire Authority run them instead.

mona.shadia@latimes.com

Twitter: @MonaShadia

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