City hosts budget talk before commission review  

Santa Clarita City Hall

The Santa Clarita City Council and its commission leaders, including for planning, parks and the arts, took a final review of the proposed 2024-25 budget before it goes to the Planning Commission for approval and then the City Council in June. 

While the city’s financial health remains in good shape, per city officials, council members took the opportunity to ask how the budget is addressing some of residents’ biggest priorities, including public safety and community services. 

Assistant City Manager Frank Oviedo, who was filling in for City Manager Ken Striplin, started by commending staff on a budget that “is consistent with the City Council’s goals while providing the funding necessary to continue delivering exceptional service.” 

Next year’s proposed budget totals $342 million, which is approximately $20.6 million more than this year’s, Oviedo said, which, similar to this year’s, is the city’s largest to date. This year’s budget saw the city pass the $300 million mark for the first time. 

The city’s total general fund revenues are projected to be $149.2 million next year, including a projected increase of about 5.5% in the city’s sales tax revenue, which is traditionally the city’s leading source. That’s against expected expenditures of $148.85 million  

Reasons cited for the improved projections included global and national forecasts that have manifested better than economists first expected in 2024. 

“In the first quarter, continued growth is stronger than expected on all levels,” Oviedo said, adding the economy’s projected growth rate for the year improved to 2.5% from 1.7% at the last discussion. 

That’s also consistent with a 2.6% gain expected for the nation’s leading stock index, and projections from UCLA’s Anderson Economic Forecast, which expects California’s economic growth to outpace the nation’s. 

Looking at some of the caution signs, he also stated inflation appears to be rising again, and the Fed’s interest rate has yet to come down and may not at all this year. 

The Consumer Price Index, a measure of the average change over time in the prices paid for a market basket of consumer goods, was 3.5% for the country in March and 4% in California during that time. 

Santa Clarita Mayor Cameron Smyth said one of his concerns is always whether the state will raid local coffers to address a multibillion-dollar deficit, as it has done in the past. 

Oviedo said there seems to be no indication so far that’s the case next year. 

The governor’s May revise, a budget update given ahead of the Legislature’s final approval, is expected to provide more information on the state picture. 

Other budget highlights 

Public safety, which is easily the largest portion of the general budget, represents 23% of the city’s expenditures, or $33.6 million. 

Recreation and community services account for 11.6% of the spending plan, or about $16.6 million, according to Oviedo. 

The city of Santa Clarita expects its recreational revenue to increase by about 9% for next year, about $4.8 million, thanks in part to a planned opening of its Valencia Community Center this fall. 

There’s $2.5 million planned for median landscaping throughout the city. 

The new community center is undergoing significant work on the indoor pool, the city’s first such facility. The location was previously the YMCA center at 26147 McBean Parkway. 

The budget also calls for $275,000 to support senior center operations locally. 

The city’s transit occupancy tax, a revenue the city collects from local hotel stays, is expected to improve to $2 million, a 4% gain.  

The budget calls for an operating surplus of more than $300,000. 

The Planning Commission is expected to review the budget June 4, with an initial budget hearing expected in front of the City Council the following Tuesday. Formal adoption of the budget is anticipated at a June 25 City Council meeting. 

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