Commentary: Living Within Your Means

Share |
(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, March 13, 2009

Citrus Heights has a reserve of $28 million dollars – nearly as much as its $32 million dollar yearly budget. The city has no debt.

That’s because Citrus Heights doesn’t borrow, and it lives within its means. It paid for its city hall, its police station and its new community center in cash, using savings it had socked away over the years.

It keeps its payroll under control because city workers multi-task. The human resources director serves as the city clerk, public information officer, and also handles risk management. The city finance director doubles as city treasurer.

Also, Citrus Heights pays its employees only what it knows it can afford. Instead of negotiating multiyear contracts that include raises based on projected revenues, Citrus Heights sets salaries after it closes its books on the past fiscal year and knows how much money it actually has. As city manager Henry Tingle puts it, “We’re not as concerned with what other cities are paying. We’re concerned with what we can afford.” What a concept.

Incorporated just 11 years ago, Citrus Heights is one of the youngest cities in the region. In these difficult times though, it has plenty to teach its elders.


Ginger Rutland writes for The Sacramento Bee opinion pages.