City previews balanced budget

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

The Santa Clarita City Council convened Tuesday evening to hear an overview of the city’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year. 

City Manager Ken Striplin presented the budget’s highlights during the hourlong meeting. 

“I’m pleased to share that I am presenting a balanced budget to the City Council that reflects both growth and optimism as a whole,” Striplin said of the city’s $248.3 million budget, which features a surplus of just over $300,000. 

The city’s proposed 2021-22 budget, which represents the city’s spending plan, is 13% larger than the city’s current adopted budget. 

Striplin said the larger budget reflects revenue increases, including higher property tax revenue driven by strong activity in the development sector. Sales taxes revenue also provided a boost. 

The general fund will be approximately $120 million of the city’s total budget, Striplin said. Public safety is budgeted to receive 25% of the general fund. Public Works stands at 14% while Parks, Recreation and Community Services accounts for 14% and Neighborhood Services represents 11%. 

Striplin also reported that the city has worked quickly to fund more of its CalPERS obligation, or its share of its employees’ retirement benefits. 

“I am recommending that in addition to the city’s required pension contribution of just over $3.5 million that the city also will include a one-time payment of $1.5 million to CalPERS for a total payment of $5 million,” he said. “Making this additional pension payment helps stabilize the city’s pension liabilities, making them more predictable and less at the mercy of the pension fund’s investment performance.” 

Council members expressed their gratitude to Striplin and city staff for their efforts to prepare the city’s budget. 

“I am absolutely amazed at all of the things that you have planned for keeping this city as great as it is,” said Mayor Pro Tem Laurene Weste. 

“I just have to really say this for those who wish to change the city’s governance system,” said Councilwoman Marsha McLean. “Just take a look at this budget, take a look at everything that we’re able to do now, without raising your taxes with the governance system that we have in place.” 

Councilman Jason Gibbs also commended the city for preparing a balanced budget. 

“It is a testament to those who sit up here and have sat here for many years and created such an incredible place that for someone like me, who gets to come in and literally gets to ride the wave of the success of this city and just be a part of its future planning, it’s truly an honor,” he said. 

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