Saturday, July 21 , 2018, 8:06 am | Overcast 64º

 
 
 
 

Local News

City of Santa Barbara Expecting Surpluses for Next Two Budget Years

The City of Santa Barbara is expected to post surpluses for the next two fiscal years and officials plan to allocate more to capital funding than they have in the past decade, Finance Director Bob Samario said Tuesday.

The City Council will be hearing presentations on every city department for the 2014 budget starting at a May 1 special workshop and ultimately will adopt a budget by the end of June.

Samario and his staff recommend an operating budget of $268 million, which includes $40 million in capital spending and anticipates modest growth in local tax revenues. A new policy — prompted by the $200 million to $400 million in unfunded infrastructure needs — mandates that half of any year-end surpluses be added to the capital program as well.

Looking back on the past five years, the city “made it through in pretty good financial condition,” Samario said, though he cautioned council members that there are still huge expenses in the future.

The California Public Employees Retirement System lost so much in investments that it plans to raise its rates by 50 percent over a five-year period starting in 2016, Samario said — a move that could “decimate” some cities.

The City of Santa Barbara already has unfunded pension costs of about $267 million and expects its pension costs to increase significantly over the next five years just from existing employees retiring.

The largest portion of the budget is for general fund departments such as public safety, administration, public works and parks and recreation, which are funded primarily by tax revenues. Enterprise funds are almost completely self-sustaining off of fees, though the Golf Fund was hit hardest by the recession, Samario noted. It’s expected to improve with some help from the closure of Goleta’s Ocean Meadows course and higher green fees, according to the budget documents.

Cruise ship visits have been a boon to the waterfront department and community at large, with $300,000 per year in landing fees and general benefits from having thousands of visitors patronize local shops and restaurants.

There are several studies planned to find “efficiencies” in the coming years as well.

Even though the parking citation program — for enforcing 75-minute zones and street sweeping restrictions — brings in $4.2 million every year, the city says the computerized system is “cumbersome” and “antiquated.” Staff propose a $25,000 study to analyze the enforcement-to-collection process to find out if there’s a more cost-efficient way of doing business.

More than $500,000 of these funds were allegedly embezzled by former police business office manager Karen Flores, who assumed responsibility for the money after her supervisor’s position was eliminated in 2004 to save money. The City Council approved bringing back the position a year ago.

The parking violation revenues are divided among the county court system, the city streets sweeping fund and police operations, according to the budget document.

The city also wants to fund a $40,000 study that examines possible cost-cutting measures in providing aircraft, rescue and firefighting services at the Santa Barbara Airport — which cost about $1.8 million for the current year — and update the zoning ordinance to clarify “conflicting and confusing policies.”

The three-year process to update the ordinance would cost $597,000 among staff, city attorney and consultant work costs.

Click here to read the proposed two-year financial plan for fiscal years 2014 and 2015.

Scroll down for the scheduled meetings about the budget for the three-member Finance Committee.

The schedule for City Council budget workshops, to be held in the Council Chambers at 735 Anacapa St., is as follows:

» Wednesday, May 1 from 3 to 6 p.m. to discuss department budgets for finance, community promotions, administrative services, the city attorney’s office, the city administrator’s office and the mayor and City Council

» Thursday, May 2 from 1 to 4 p.m. to discuss department budgets for community development, the Redevelopment Agency successor agency and the library

» Monday, May 6 from 2 to 5 p.m. to discuss the department budget for public works

» Monday, May 13 from 2 to 5 p.m. to discuss the department budgets for the airport, waterfront and solid waste fund

» Wednesday, May 15 from 9:30 a.m. to noon to discuss department budgets for parks and recreation, the creek fund and the golf fund

» Monday, May 20 from 2 to 5 p.m. to discuss department budgets for fire and police

» Wednesday, May 22 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. to discuss any other presentations if the time is needed

» Monday, June 3 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. to begin council budget deliberations and get recommendations from the Finance Committee

» Wednesday, June 5 from 3 to 6 p.m. to continue deliberations, if needed

» Thursday, June 6 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. to finish deliberations and give final budget direction to staff

» Tuesday, June 11 at the 2 p.m. regular City Council meeting to discuss the Prop. 218 hearing on proposed rate increases to water, wastewater and solid waste

» Tuesday, June 18 at the 2 p.m. regular City Council meeting to adopt the budget

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

  Santa Barbara Finance Committee schedule for budget workshops 2013 by Giana Magnoli

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level
×

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >