Analysis: Santa Clarita among top 25 fiscally healthy California cities

Santa Clarita City Hall is located on the 23900 block of Valencia Blvd. File Photo

Santa Clarita ranked in the top 25 of fiscally healthy cities across California, a State Auditor’s analysis showed. 

The city received a “low risk” of financial challenges designation, placing it in the top 5% of local governments out of 470 cities. 

Santa Clarita earned perfect scores in the categories of debt burden, general fund revenues, liquidity and in both pension and other post-employment benefits obligations, according to the analysis that used audited and publicly available financial data from cities’ 2016-17 fiscal year. 

The State Auditor’s “Local Government High-Risk Dashboard” offers a ranking of cities from highest to lowest risk of financial distress based on 10 financial indicators. Rankings are based on the number of points each city earns. 

Santa Clarita earned 448 and was among 217 others with low-risk marks. A total of 236 cities fell under “moderate” and 18 received “high-risk” designations.   

“This report demonstrates that we have been successful,” said City Manager Ken Striplin. “There is no doubt that the city is in good financial standing and we will continue to do all we can to ensure that it stays that way through our conservative budget practices.”

The report gave Santa Clarita a “moderate” designation for its revenue trends, meaning that its general fund revenues are increasing modestly “and may be sufficient to pay rising costs without reducing service levels.” 

In 2016-17, the city saw its overall budget exceed $200 million for the first time, an increase of 17.5% over the prior year. That record broke for its 2019-20 fiscal year, in which its total budget reached $225.9 million. 

“It is imperative that we make sure we spend our dollars wisely and that we never spend more than we take in,” said Mayor Marsha McLean. “We’ve had a balanced budget since the inception of the city and I think as long as we’re very careful, that we bring business to Santa Clarita and that we support our businesses, both large and small, we’ll continue to be successful.” 

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