City to begin new budget process amid ongoing COVID-19 pandemic

Santa Clarita City Hall, as pictured on February, 26, 2020, is located on the 23900 block of Valencia Blvd. Dan Watson/The Signal

Santa Clarita officials are expected Tuesday to offer a first look into the city’s 2021-22 spending plan, which looks at how the city will move forward after more than a year of dealing with the revenue impacts associated with COVID-19. 

The six-month budget process is expected to commence Tuesday afternoon with city staff, the City Council and commission members before culminating in June. 

“I was happy to hear that even though we’ve had a very rough year, our budget is strong, our fiscal responsibilities are being taken care of properly,” said Mayor Bill Miranda on Monday after receiving a brief overview with Mayor Pro Tem Laurene Weste of what city staff are expected to present. “There’s less revenue coming in, obviously. The sales tax revenues impacted quite a bit, but we’re very strong and we have a very good reserve.” 

City Manager Ken Striplin is expected to share details regarding estimates Tuesday. 

The new budget would come after Santa Clarita adopted in June 2020 a $219.7 million budget that suffered a $6.2 million decrease from the previous year. Shortfalls came after months of stay-at-home restrictions that forced many residents to stay indoors and left many without a job. 

At the time, unemployment peaked at 20% in Santa Clarita. One year into the pandemic and that figure has dropped to 9.2%, according to the state’s Employment Development Department. The Los Angeles County rate was also at its peak (20-21%) in May and June and has since dropped to around 10.7%. 

Just before the effects of the pandemic could be felt across Santa Clarita, city officials had been preparing for a potential recession. One year ago this month, officials shared a study that the likelihood for a recession in the next 12 months (February 2021), had been gradually increasing to levels seen before the last recession. Still, officials said the city was well-positioned to remain a strong economy. 

Miranda said he believes the city remains in a strong standing, but expects Striplin to issue a similar message to what he shared last year. 

“The message this year is very different,” said Striplin in a statement with the budget report last year. “The long-term impacts from this crisis have yet to be realized, but we do know there will be many challenges and tough decisions ahead.”

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