Breaking down the budget: Santa Clarita in the next fiscal year

Santa Clarita City Hall

City staff spent six months preparing for Santa Clarita’s 2017-18 budget before it was approved by the city council on Tuesday.

The $197.7 million-dollar budget takes goals for Santa Clarita’s 2020 plan into consideration, City Manager Ken Striplin said at the Tuesday meeting.

Santa Clarita’s 2017-18 budget totals $197.7 million. Courtesy of the city of Santa Clarita.

The largest portion of this budget will go to operations and maintenance, which totals 51 percent of the budget.

Personnel is the next largest sum at 26 percent, followed by 17 percent for capital projects.

Of the remaining budget, three percent is allocated for capital outlay, which is anything that is property valued, such as expensive large equipment. Two percent of the budget will be for reserves and debt services and one percent is for the successor agency, meaning redevelopment.

A budget should have residents’ needs in mind and look toward the future beyond just the year ahead, said Jerrid McKenna, Management Analyst for the city.

“I think it’s taking a futuristic look and very conservative approach at where we want to end up,” McKenna said.

He also described the budget as being fiscally frugal and gives credit for a healthy budget to the city’s good leadership.

The general fund is the largest portion of Santa Clarita’s 2017-18 budget. Courtesy of the city of Santa Clarita.

General fund revenues of $103.3 million will go primarily toward community services.

Of this fund, 24 percent will be spent on public safety and 17 percent will go to public works. Recreation, community services and open space will receive 14 percent and transfers out, meaning future savings for specified projects, will get 10 percent.

Neighborhood services are nine percent, administrative services are seven percent and community development is seven percent of the budget.

The city manager’s office will receive four percent, the city attorney’s office will receive two percent and debt services will receive two percent.

Non-departmental costs, which are not designated to any specific program, and contingency costs, which are unplanned costs during projects, will each comprise once percent the general fund.

Some big-ticket items on the budget include phases five and seven for Intelligent Transportation Systems for $1,916,625 and $431,198, respectively.

Under this system, traffic lights will be wired to get real time updates to adjust the flow of traffic. According to McKenna, there will continue to be endless phases as technology progresses.

Several city transit buses will need to be replaced as well, totaling $6,050,384.

As per state mandate, the city will also have to pay $1.9 million to remove turf in street medians.

In an effort to keep CEMEX out of Santa Clarita, $120,000 will go to advocacy efforts to prevent the Mexican mining company from coming into the city.

The city’s monthly homeless sweeps to clean up encampments in the riverbed will cost $100,000 for the next year. Comparatively, this is about the cost of a year’s rent for four two-bedroom apartments in the city.

Santa Clarita will also pay for an engineering and traffic study for $100,000 in the next fiscal year. The city is required to conduct this study every seven years and last did one in 2012.

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