A day after the Super Bowl, budget season kicks off in Santa Clarita. Good seats are still available.
The approximately six-month process of formalizing the city’s fiscal 2017-2018 spending plan gets under way at City Hall on Monday with a pair of meetings, both open to the public.
Last year’s city budget totaled $220 million.
As in a regular Council meeting, public speakers will get three minutes to address the city officials at each Monday meeting, but in this case the topic will be limited to budget matters only.
“It’s my first budget back, so I’ll be digging into the weeds a little more than some of the other Council members, to familiarize myself with where we are from a budget standpoint,’’ said Mayor Cameron Smyth, referring to his return to the city’s governing body after a 10-year absence.
Smyth said one of his priorities will be “keeping law-enforcement funding at a high level.’’
“We had some good news out of the 2015 (crime) stats, so we want to keep that momentum going,’’ he said.
“Also, one thing I hear about all the time is, more parks, more recreation space. So I’ll be digging into the Parks and Rec budget, too.”
In addition, Smyth said traffic-related budget lines would get a close look and perhaps grow over last year’s figures.
“That’s the No. 1 issue, traffic,’’ he said. “Are we keeping up with the technology, keeping the streets paved, keeping the roads properly striped? We’ll be making sure we’re keeping up and funding where the needs are.
“And we’ll also look to maintain our reserve fund,’’ Smyth added, “to be prepared.’’
Councilman Bob Kellar, who is not on the budget committee this year but has been in the past, said he thinks public-safety funding will grow in fiscal 2017-18.
“We have historically beefed up our budget on public safety beyond the contract with the Sheriff’s Department, and I expect that will continue,’’ Kellar said.
Specifically, he said, “I would not be surprised to see some expansion in traffic-safety (funding).’’
“We’ve had a terrible couple of years in safety,’’ said Kellar. “I’m sick to see how many pedestrian deaths we have had, particularly on Sierra Highway.’’
Monday’s first meeting, starting at 2 p.m. in the first-floor Orchard Conference Room, consists of the City Council’s Budget Committee, made up of the mayor and the mayor pro tem. They will start the X’s and O’s aspects of a budget that typically goes through numerous drafts before finally crossing the goal line in June.
Then comes a 5:30 p.m. “study session’’ in the first-floor Century Room, where all five City Council members will join with members of the Planning Commission; the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission; and the Arts Commission, for more budgetary chalk talk.
“Study Sessions are for the purpose of allowing the City Council, Commissioners, and staff to informally discuss and better understand major issues currently before the City,’’ according to the agenda.