City approves new fee schedule, holds public hearing on 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 approved a new fee schedule for residents as well as held a public hearing on the upcoming fiscal year’s budget on Tuesday evening.  

The new schedule increases the fees related to city services, such as parking enforcement, developer permitting and recreational programs, among other things. Following the public hearing on the budget, a vote on whether to approve the upcoming fiscal year’s financial blueprint was scheduled to take place on June 28.  

City Manager Ken Striplin, during his presentation of the $299.3 million balanced budget, used PowerPoint slides to show the council members their previously approved priorities for the city in the coming fiscal year and to provide examples of what projects or programs would be funded under each given topic.  

Under the theme of “Building and Creating Community,” Striplin showed the plan to spend $463,530 on Canyon Country Community Center operations, $558,876 on Central Park buildout operations and $107,655 for full-time preschool teachers. 

From there, Striplin went through slides denoting themes such as “Community Engagement,” “Enhancing Economic Vitality,” “Community Beautification and Sustainability,” “Organizational Excellence,” and “Sustaining Public Infrastructure.”  

The final slide, in terms of new additions to general fund expenditures, discussed public safety, which makes up 23% of the $132.7 million general fund, and is the largest expenditure category for the general fund budget.  

In terms of new public safety programs, city staff suggested $800,000 for a city mobile command unit, a $417,370 cost-of-living adjustment for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department contract, $93,000 for security camera replacements, $70,000 for speed cushions on Santa Catarina Road and $57,000 in cybersecurity initiatives.  

The Fiscal Year 2022-23 Capital Improvement Program, or CIP, also made up a large part of the overall budget, seeing a projected 83% increase to $84.7 million when comparing this coming year to the current year. Through COVID-19 funds, federal money and grants, the city’s CIP will spend tens of millions of dollars to improve “prioritized projects,” such as parks, buildings, paseos, trails and street enhancements aimed to improve the quality of life for residents.  

The largest new CIP expenditures include $4.7 million for the design of the Santa Clarita Sports Complex, $4.5 million for the design of Via Princessa Park and $3.5 million for the Haskell Canyon Blue Cloud Bike Park.  

If adopted at a meeting later this month, the new budget would come into effect on July 1.  

In addition to budget discussion, the council also approved an increase to the city’s fee schedule.  

Unless otherwise stipulated in the agenda, the increase for the various services and fees is largely based on the December year-end Consumer Price Index, which showed an increase of 6.57%. For example, the standard release of an impounded vehicle will rise from $216 to $235 and the noise disturbance fee will increase from $506 to $539.    

Transit and library service fees will remain unchanged, according to the agenda, and the recreation fees for things such as aquatics, youth and adult sports, camps and field use will increase “by no more than 10%” and will still be “below market.”    

It is estimated the new fee schedule will add $598,084 in additional revenue to the general fund. Development-related fees would go into effect Sept. 14, recreation fees would go into effect Oct. 1, aquatic fees and special event fees would go into effect Jan. 1, and all other fees would go into effect on July 1.   

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