Friday, March 23 , 2018, 7:56 pm | Fair 59º


Dan Singer: So Far, Goleta Faces Minimal State and Federal Budget Impacts

Positive signs emerge on the funding side but the city is warily watching a weakening national economy

About the only good thing you can say about California’s recently adopted budget is that at least we finally have a state budget in place.

Dan Singer
Dan Singer

The agreement has left a lot of folks deeply dissatisfied about the way in which our state is being governed and there are few, if any, real winners with this budget. Yet cities may have fared better than most. Why? Because in 2006, California voters overwhelming supported a constitutional amendment designed to prevent the state from taking local tax dollars. That measure, commonly known as Proposition 1A, established parameters so the state could no longer conveniently transfer local revenues into other statewide programs. Thus when reporters began calling City Hall the day after California’s budget was adopted to find out how badly the $11.6 billion in cuts were going to affect Goleta, we were relieved to reply with “hardly at all.”

Whereas in past years it was common for the state to balance its budget off the backs of local government, this year (so far), cities were spared from major program cuts. Property tax, sales tax and vehicle license fees will all continue to be apportioned among various agencies, including cities, at existing levels. COPS funding — used in Goleta to support our gang deputy position — remains unchanged, and state public library funding (albeit a tiny portion of the Goleta library revenue stream), stays intact. Indeed the only setback to local revenues was the deferral of some gas tax monies that will be distributed later in the year, and the elimination of funding for state-mandated programs for which cities are usually reimbursed. In Goleta’s case, this amounts to less than $30,000.

Meanwhile, with the passage of the federal stimulus package — the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act — opportunity abounds for Goleta and the region as we look to take advantage of numerous programs that could bring needed dollars into our community. On a formulaic basis Goleta will see additional road repair funds and Community Development Block Grant funds, and could receive additional COPS monies. Yet on a competitive basis we will be seeking funding support for our San Jose Creek Flood Improvement Project, an important revitalization project for Old Town, which will eliminate flooding along Hollister Avenue. The city is also likely to pursue energy-efficiency grants, emergency operation center funding, and possible money for a future fire station on the west side of town, among other projects.

Despite all of this relative good news, Goleta still faces the same challenges that most entities do as the national economy weakens our sales tax, bed tax and building permit figures.  Challenging decisions lie ahead for the City Council, but at least we can take solace in knowing that this year our state and federal funding remains intact.

— Dan Singer is Goleta’s city manager.

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