Despite California's continuing cash crunch, Hesperia has avoided cutting most services residents expect from their city -- at least so far.


That was the over-arching theme at Tuesday's Hesperia City Council budget workshop, presided over by Assistant City Manager Brian Johnson.


The city's financial picture is "relatively good news in these troubled financial times," Johnson told the city council.


Much of the news was grim. Developer Impact Fees are a tenth of what they were five years ago -- $1.7 million in 2010-2011 instead of $19 million in 2005-2006 -- there have been no new single family building permits issued in the city since April 2010 and property tax revenue has declined precipitously after the county assessor twice reassessed values downwards for residents.


"My tax bill for my Hesperia home was less last year and my bill this year was lower than that," said Johnson. And in August, the assessor may do it again.


But there are positive signs: Hesperia's sales tax revenue, always a pale shadow of what neighboring Victorville brings in, is trickling upwards.


"We're clearly seeing increases in our sales tax" revenue, said Johnson. He estimated the city would receive $5.9 million in sales tax this fiscal year, rather than the expected $5.8 million.


Only one of the city's three majoring operating funds -- general, fire and water -- has the council-mandated 10 percent reserve. (The general fund has a 33 percent reserve.) But the city is being prudent with what it has, and is only using the reserves for one-time expenditures and not to balance its budget the way some neighboring communities have done, depleting their rainy day funds.


The city's goal is to impact city services as little as possible, Johnson said. The plan is still for city hall to remain open five days a week.


But the fat has long since been cut away, he said, and future cuts may impact city services.


"We may have to have changes" in fire and police service, Johnson said.


Last year's austerity plan remains in effect for city employees, who received no cost of living increases and no merit pay increases. They also took a five percent pay cut.


Eleven positions were also eliminated last year.


"We hardly have any part-time employees left," said Johnson.


The city has also put a number of projects on hold, including widening Main Street, planning a freeway interchange at Muscatel Street, new aqueduct crossings and improvements to the city's fire stations.


The next regular meeting of the Hesperia City Council will take place on March 1 at 6:30 p.m. at Hesperia City Hall, 9700 Seventh Avenue.


Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 760-956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star.