By The Signal Editorial Board
Chalk this one up in the “credit where it’s due” department: The California State Auditor has released its rankings of 470 cities throughout the state, assessing their fiscal health.
And our city, Santa Clarita, is in the top 25 — putting it in the top 5% of California cities on the basis of fiscal health for its “low risk” of financial challenges.
What does this mean? It means that, even if you might quibble with how the city handles one issue or another — and we sometimes do — the numbers show that, when it comes to using taxpayer dollars wisely, Santa Clarita is an exceptionally well-run city.
In the State Auditor’s analysis, which was based on cities’ 2016-17 fiscal year data, the city of Santa Clarita put up perfect scores for debt burden, general fund revenue, liquidity, pension and other post-employment benefits obligations.
The analysis looked at 10 key financial indicators, and ranked the cities on each, using a point system. Of the 470 cities ranked, Santa Clarita was among 217 categorized as having a low risk of financial distress, and even within those, the city was among the 25 best.
What does this mean?
It doesn’t mean the city doesn’t spend money. It just means the city spends it prudently. Santa Clarita provides a wide variety of public services and programs, in addition to the “grunt work” of running a municipality, like taking care of roads, street lights and the like.
And, the city is in the midst of several significant capital improvement projects, including a new sheriff’s station and a new community center in Canyon Country.
Doing all of these things, while carefully minding the financial store, so to speak, reflects well on the elected and executive leadership of the city, starting with the City Council and City Manager Ken Striplin.
Together, they oversee a balanced budget that reached $225.9 million this year — no small task.
“This report demonstrates that we have been successful,” Striplin said. “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.”
Striplin is right: The State Auditor’s report is a positive reinforcement that many things are being done right at Santa Clarita City Hall, particularly when it comes to the management of your tax dollars.
A tip of the cap to all who are responsible. It’s well-deserved.