Santa Paula Times

City Council: Increased revenues,
spending reflected in new budget

June 06, 2014
Santa Paula News

The City Council was updated Monday on the budget for next fiscal year that calls for an increase in expenditures from this year’s originally budgeted levels, including beefing up accounting systems, conducting a city-wide fee study and hiring new personnel.

Finance Director Sandy Easley told the council the $35.4 million budget proposal has $34.6 million in expenditures for the coming fiscal year, which starts July 1.

Higher salary and benefit costs are contributing to the higher General Fund spending of $12.59 million in 2014-15, up from the $12.2 million of the 2013-2014 Fiscal Year.

The proposed expenditures exclude funds set aside for current labor negotiations, officials said.

With total expected General Fund revenues of $13.1 million, there would be $12.59 million in expenditures with the balance being transferred to reserves, an account that City Manager Jaime Fontes said would be larger than the 10 percent benchmark set by municipalities. Last year $700,000 was transferred to the account following the $1.5 million sale of the city’s former wastewater treatment plant.

There are new hires called for in the budget, notably a compliance specialist to ensure the city follows local, state and federal regulations to avoid fines and penalties. A capital projects engineer to help with citywide and public engineering services will also be hired, a position Fontes wrote will largely be paid by permit and developer fees and not from city coffers.

The city also is looking at hiring a part-time building inspector to help with code enforcement and a part-time secretary for the Planning Department as well as a full-time accounting technician. 

The city is also facing numerous other expenses in the coming fiscal year including a $45,000 city fee study, $87,000 to replace two police black and white patrol cars and a whopping $400,800 to update the city’s General Plan, the blueprint for how the city plans to develop in the future.

The city’s financial management system might also be updated at a cost of $100,000.

Fontes wrote that although eventually the proposed Limoneira East Area 1 and 2 developments will benefit the city there would still be shortfalls for several years following the 2016-2017 anticipated completion of portions of the residential and commercial development. The shortfalls, noted Fontes, could be as high as $2 million.

The city has also embarked on a study that will look at water and wastewater rates.

An anticipated $596,224 expected to be leftover from the current budget due to higher property and sales tax will be partially offset by the $374,566 the city learned earlier this year they must reimburse gas tax funds that were improperly used.

The council is expected to approve the budget June 16, a meeting Fontes said will also include final language for a 1 percent specific sales tax ballot measure to fund public safety and roads, as well as agenda items regarding homeless issues and an update on park fees.