Despite a near standstill in new home construction in the city the city of Hesperia will keep most services at their current levels in the coming fiscal year.


The Hesperia City Council got their first look at the proposed $220 million budget for Fiscal Year 2009-2010, which begins on July 1, at a budget workshop Tuesday afternoon. The council will vote on (and almost certainly approve) the budget at their next meeting.


The city traditionally gets much of its unrestricted revenue (the general fund) from the construction of new homes. There's little of that coming in this year -- only 12 new single family home permits have been requested in 2009 -- and the focus at the workshop was on saving money while making as few cuts that would impact residents as possible, all with a balanced budget with reserves equal to 30 percent of the city budget.


For starters, there will be no layoffs at city hall. (Cutting staff would mean financial penalties under the city's contracts with some staff.)


"We will be living up to our union contracts and agreements with employees that are already in effect," said Assistant City Manager for Management Services Brian Johnson.


"We've been able to make $2 million in cuts without reducing our current workforce," said City Manager Mike Podegracz.


The city is eliminating currently vacant positions, including a deputy city clerk, a financial analyst, an associate planner, a code compliance manager, a code enforcement officer and four part-time positions.


The city is also cracking down on employee overtime, eliminating it in almost all departments but code enforcement and animal control.


"We're trying to keep up city services as best we can," said Podegracz. "It's the after-hours that will be impacted."


Despite the downturn, the city will still be spending $42.2 million on street paving in the coming year, down from $46.5 million last year.


"Even in these economic times, it's still a very aggressive capital improvement program," said Podegracz.


Foremost among the projects is the Ranchero Road corridor, most notably the long-awaited Ranchero Road Underpass.


"This project is a rock rolling downhill and it will happen this fiscal year," said Director of Development Services Scott Priester. "I won't tell the mayor it'll happen by December, but it'll happen this fiscal year," or before July 1, 2010, in other words.


Other projects include a traffic signal upgrade at Main Street and C Avenue, improvements to Seventh Avenue, new traffic signals at Smoke Tree Road and Seventh Avenue and at Main Street and Rock Springs Road and $6.8 million in street paving.


The city council will vote on the budget at their next meeting on June 16 at 6:30 p.m. at Hesperia City Hall, 9700 Seventh Avenue.


Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.