Chico City Council

The city of Chico is cautiously clawing its way back to financial health. Revenue is up, long-term debts are shrinking and the days of uncertainty and layoffs appear over.

Though prosperity may be a bit further than "just around the corner," a draft annual budget submitted to the City Council last night envisions paying off debts, beginning to restore financial reserves and even some hiring.

It’s a far cry from the situation less than two years ago when local gadflies foresaw insolvency and bankruptcy within months.

Art Helps Drive Local Economy, Advocates Say

Mar 31, 2015
City of Chico

Performances, art shows and public art are more than mere cultural enrichment, they also fuel the local economy. 

That’s the summation of a long-awaited report that arts organizations hope will convince political leaders in Chico to restore some funding to the arts, artists and art-related events. 

Direct city funding was largely eliminated due to budget shortfalls in the wake of the implosion of housing bubble.

Council members in Chico tackled a series of minor issues with little acrimony Tuesday night, agreeing to small changes to various programs and to conduct an inventory of potentially surplus city-owned real estate. 

You’d think that getting nearly $5 million to spend would be cause for celebration, but not if you’re nearly $8 million in the hole. That was essence of most of the discussions last night before the Chico City Council, where officials met to decide how to spend a windfall that was hard to imagine a year ago. 

 “Are we out of the woods yet just because we have this $4.8 million?” Chico City Manager Mark Orme said at the meeting. “Absolutely not! But are we headed in the right direction? Absolutely.”

Chico’s city council will be grappling with a problem tonight they haven’t had to worry about in years — what to do with extra money.

Rising sales and property taxes thanks to an improving economy, coupled with savings from some pretty serious budget cuts, have left $4.8 million worth of black ink in Chico’s municipal coffers. But after years of crisis budgeting, city leaders meeting tonight will likely end up using the windfall to pay off debts rather than on funding any new initiatives or restoring much in the way of services.