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UPDATE: Gary Plass to be Sworn In as Healdsburg Mayor Jan. 3

Councilwoman Susan Jones to take position as Vice Mayor.

UPDATE: This article was updated on Friday, Dec. 23, 2011 to reflect information on Gary Plass's swearing in ceremony as Healdsburg Mayor.

will be sworn in as Healdsburg's 2012 Mayor at a ceremony Jan. 3 at the first Healdsburg City Council meeting of the year.

Plass and Councilwoman Susan Jones, who will be sworn in as Vice Mayor, will take the oath of office at the meeting starting 6 p.m. at

At the Dec. 19 council meeting where they were named to the posts by their colleagues on council, both Plass and Jones said they were sobered by

"It's going to be a very tough year," Plass said in accepting the new post. "Hopefully we'll also find some fun things to do." 

Jones, former Healdsburg Police Chief, shook her head and nodded to current

"I'm just looking at Kevin sitting there, remembering when I used to be in that position," she said, referring to the specter of staff cuts if the city has to trim spending next year. goes toward city police and fire departments.

Plass, a former Healdsburg Police sergeant has a long record of service to the city, according to an article in the Press Democrat.

To read the article, click here.

On Dec. 19, Healdsburg City Council took steps to reconcile the fact that the official 2011-2012 city budget was actually $385,000 more in the red than officially recorded in the computer.

"I don't have authorization to change it without a resolution from you," Healdsburg Finance Director Heather Ippoliti told City Council members during her first quarter budget update.

Council voted unanimously to amend the budget and add the $385,000 to the existing recorded $598,672 budget deficit -- resulting in a new deficit total of $983,672.

"We trying to improve our transparency," City Manager Marjie Pettus explained in supporting Ippoliti's request. "We're trying to get away from giving people a big surprise at the end of the year, and we're trying to improve our reliability and credibility."

Earlier this year, City Council hired a consulting firm to create and administer a tax feasibility survey of city residents. The survey, which is still in the creation process, will assess the feasibility of getting voter approval to either increase the city's sales tax rate or possibly reassign hotel room taxes to fund more city services. Either option would require approval by voters.

On Monday, Ippoliti said the additional $385,000 in deficit was a combination of a loss of $220,000 in sales tax revenue from one major business that left the city and a $140,000 adjustment in tax revenue that was received by Healdsburg from a prior year but which needs to be reimbursed to Sonoma County.

Another $25,000 hit was from monies that had formerly come to the city from state vehicle license fees. That revenue stream was eliminated as part of a step to save state law enforcement grant programs.

"There's no use in beating a dead horse now," said Mayor Tom Chambers, in recommending approval of the budget amendment as requested by Ippoliti. "It's pretty grim."

Other council members said they appreciated the need for real-time numbers, but that the truth was chilling.

"It just kind of hurts," said Councilman Steve Babb. "What are we going to do if we don't get the tax increase (approval from voters)?"

Councilman Jim Wood said he feared that "unfortunately, Plan B is going to be cuts," he said. "The loss of that sales tax revenue really hurts."

Civic leader Ray Holley told the council he thought the budget amendment was a good idea for keeping the officially recorded numbers clear and in sync with actual amounts.

"I'm impressed with the quick and decisive idea of a budget amendment," Holley said. "Otherwise, Heather would have to run parallel books."

austin December 06, 2011 at 09:27 AM
This article won't get any attention because it doesn't involve a sheltered dog.
austin December 06, 2011 at 04:42 PM
Anyone know why the General Fund wage expenditure increases are so high? Fire +$270k (+16.6%), Police +$451k(+13.8%), and Finance +$197k(+12.8%). Those numbers do not include overtime.
Marilyn Pozas December 06, 2011 at 04:55 PM
Surely we had to have known what the costs for police and fire employees were going to be? How about we have some public town halls to look at the discretionary spending? Instead of scaring us all with threatening to pull vital services, why don't we as a community look at how Healdsburg has spent its money? Do we really need to widen those sidewalks? Do we really need some of the construction projects we are looking at? Perhaps we can put those things off for years when we have a better fiscal situation.

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