Solano County's largest city finally has a problem it will enjoy solving.
The city budget is in the black.
After enduring years of layoffs, barebones budgets and public ridicule following its 2008 bankruptcy, the Vallejo City Council has nearly $10 million to spend from a sales tax increase approved by voters last year.
At their regular meeting last week, councilmembers debated what to do with the extra money, expected to total $9.5 million a year for the next 10 years.
City Manager Dan Keen proposed allocating $9.4 million of this year's money to 21 projects, including adding police officers to a local force decimated by layoffs and station closures.
Keen said he put together his list from $25 million worth of projects proposed by city staff, according to the Vallejo Times-Herald newspaper.
But several council and audience members suggested that city leaders use the first year's funding to develop new approaches to budgeting that would be sustainable in the long term and involve more participation from residents, the newspaper said.
Councilwoman Marti Brown spoke in favor of her plan to use half of the funds to get citizen input for a "participatory budgeting" regime that would allow members of the public to develop a preferred project list.
Vallejo accountant J.D. Miller said the city should set aside the first year's revenue to build up its reserves and have more time to come up with a spending plan.
"Any time you're going to approve a re-occurring expense, you need to identify a re-occurring stream of funding," Miller said in reference to the hiring of police officers, the newspaper said.
Vallejo, California's second state capital from 1851 to 1853, emerged from bankruptcy protection last year.