Council holds public hearing on budget

The Santa Clarita City Council held a public hearing for its budget for the next fiscal year on Tuesday. The budget, balanced and on time, is up for adoption at the next council meeting on June 26. If approved, it would then go into effect on July 1.

The $203 million budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year includes a projected $110.8 million in general fund revenues, with the general fund’s budgeted expenditures at $110.4 million, said Jerrid McKenna, assistant to the city manager.

The new budget represents a spending increase of 2.6 percent, or about $5.2 million more than the current budget, according to city documents.

Anticipated available money for expenditures has gone up $7.1 million from last year.

Of this fund, 23 percent will be spent on public safety, according to city documents.

Public safety is still growing when compared to the current fiscal year’s adopted budget. For the next fiscal year, $25.8 million will be spent, compared to the current fiscal year’s budget of $24.7 million.

Factors for the budget’s increases or decreases in funding include inflation, Consumer Price Index, cost of living adjustments and increases to base budgets, including some staffing, McKenna said.

The next year’s budget will have a 3 percent increase in personnel services, comprising 29 percent of the budget, as the city adds more positions this year after not adding significant staffing since the last recession, McKenna said.

Administrative services will go from $7 million for 2017-18 to $7.5 million for 2018-19.

Part of the driving force behind the budget is taking into account long-term goals.

“Much of the budget document is supported by the strategic plan, Santa Clarita 2020, to get our city where it needs to be by 2020,” McKenna said. “That plan streamlines the budget process to ensure all the projects, programs and services are funded and completed on time.”

The city has practices in place, such as a mid-year assessment that happens around December, to ensure its budget stays balanced and expenses don’t go over estimations, McKenna said.

The city budgeted $28.7 million for its Capital Improvement Program, which looks at the community’s needs for major ongoing projects and factors into the city’s five-year plan, Santa Clarita 2020. The program’s budget is about $5 million less than the current allocation. However, the city anticipates additional funding for projects, such as the construction contract for the new 46,000-square-foot sheriff’s station on Golden Valley Road.

The five-year Santa Clarita 2020 plan also approves projects in various phases of completion, such as a new senior center, the $1.1 million Via Princessa Park Crossing design, a fourth library in Saugus and a new Canyon Country Community Center.

Replacement of transit buses will also total $4.1 million for the new fiscal year.

The city also plans to use $2.3 million for phase seven of implementing Intelligent Transportation Systems, a new technology to monitor traffic circulation.

The city has been proactive about addressing grant opportunities, remained fiscally conservative and kept debt ratios very low, City Manager Ken Striplin said at the meeting.

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