The city’s annual budget surpassed the $300-million mark Tuesday, with City Manager Ken Striplin calling the $322 million spending plan a far cry from one of the city’s first budgets, the 1988-89 budget, which was less than $30 million.
The total, which was approved unanimously on first reading by the Santa Clarita City Council before its formal adoption is expected June 27, represents a 7.5% increase over the previous year, about $23 million.
“The growth seen in this community while maintaining the quality of life is commendable and something we should all be very proud of,” Striplin told the council. “When making revenue projections for the general fund, we use a sophisticated process (with) the best information available at the time the budget is being prepared.”
While the city touted a budget that was balanced, on-time and maintained a reserve of more than $21 million, the budget for its capital improvement program, which includes prioritized parks, buildings, trails and street improvements, to be the highest it’s ever been. The $90 million total includes $61 million for new requests and $29 million for ongoing costs — a 6% increase over the previous year.
Striplin said the costs include: $10.9 million for the construction of David March Park and $5.3 million for Old Orchard Park; $8.3 million in improvements for Magic Mountain Parkway; and $22.9 million for the city’s annual overlay and slurry seal program for road improvements, to name a few of the big-ticket items.
For the city’s general fund, both its projected revenue and its expenditures grew, with the city managing to keep an operating surplus of more than $370,000, with revenues projected to be $141.3 million and expenditures totaling around $141 million. For context, the previous year’s figures were $133 million and $132.7 million, respectively.
“We also continue to maintain the healthy operating emergency reserve, which currently represents 20% of general fund operating expenditures, or just over $21 million,” he added.
Striplin also said the city, as well the county and state, are budgeting against the uncertainty in the national economic forecast, which many predicted to be in recession by now.
While that hasn’t happened, rising interest rates and significant inflation have created significant challenges the city had to address.
A 5% increase in projected sales tax revenue is expected to help, which accounts for about $48.3 million of the city’s budget.
There was also a one-time funding request for $7 million, which was requested for the purchase of seven transit buses.
Public safety costs mentioned by Striplin on Tuesday included the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station contract, which also increased by 7.6%, attributable to a cost-of-living adjustment that increased the contract amount by $2 million.
“Lastly for public safety, $2 million for the McBean Parkway realignment,” Striplin said. “This project will realign existing medians on the parkway to improve emergency access to Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital.”