City unveils proposed budget for 2019-20 fiscal year

Santa Clarita City Manager Ken Striplin revealed Tuesday that the proposed overall budget for fiscal year 2019-20 is $225.8 million, an increase of more than 11 percent over the current budget.

“I am pleased to share that I am presenting a growing, balanced budget to the City Council and commissions,” Striplin said during a study session held at City Hall, the latest held since February.  

The increase of about $22.9 million, he said, is primarily due to $7 million in capital improvement projects and $5 million said to go toward the city’s pension funding. The recommended plan would also cover operations and maintenance, and personnel services.

All general fund revenues are projected to increase next fiscal year by nearly 3 percent, due to property taxes in recent annexations, according to Striplin.

Figures presented in February under the general fund revenues and expenditures did not change significantly. Revenues are projected at $114 million, with sales tax — the city’s largest general revenue source — at 32 percent and property tax at 33 percent. Operating expenditures are recommended to total $113.6 million, with public safety consuming the largest portion of the general fund budget at 24 percent, or nearly $28 million.

“We pay a lot of attention to sales tax because it’s also a very early indicator of what’s happening with the economy,” said Striplin. “We saw our first decrease of quarterly sales tax revenue due to a decrease in off sales locally. We’re going to really pay attention to what’s happening with that.”

The city manager said these estimates are based on information “we have now and are subject to change as new economic information comes in.”

The city’s budget priorities, under its Santa Clarita 2020 plan, include public safety, building and creating community, and sustaining public infrastructure.

Some areas covered during the study session under safety were an additional $250,000 in general funds for “strategic, data-driven overtime (crime) operations;” a total of $1.5 million requested for landscape, maintenance and development reserve projects; and $2.5 million to replace four early-generation transit buses to near-zero-emission buses.

City Council members thanked the staff for their efforts in putting together the budget, while also raising some questions. Councilman Bill Miranda asked whether the city needed to do more about speeding enforcement. Striplin said the city has been working on educating motorists and creating infrastructure strategies to prevent vehicle collisions, as well as recently adding one motorcycle deputy to help with citations, which the city manager said have helped in decreasing speeds.

After a Planning Commission meeting and City Council public hearing in early- and mid-June, the City Council is expected to adopt the proposed budget at its June 25 regular meeting.

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