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Wednesday, December 12 , 2018, 8:17 pm | Fog/Mist 51º


Goleta Leaders Optimistic About Fiscal Outlook as City Council Begins Budget Discussions

Goleta’s leaders are optimistic about financial plans for the next two years and expect a bump in property taxes from all the development activity in the city. Among the projects are two new hotels that should open for business within the next three years, which will also bring additional transient occupancy tax, or bed tax, to the city.

The City of Goleta plans to add 4.7 full-time positions next year, boosting its workforce to 62, and have an operating budget of $22.9 million, excluding capital improvement projects.

Details will be hashed out in the next two months as the City Council makes spending decisions for the next two fiscal years. The council has to approve a budget in June for the 2015-16 year, which starts July 1.

Spending for the next two years will be flat, with an estimated drop of 0.2 percent next year, finance director Genie Wilson said.

The City Council received $664,000 in requests for community group funding and will have to decide how much money to give out to nonprofits and other agencies. Mayor Paula Perotte said she wants to know the proposed capital improvement budget for next year before the council allocates funding to those programs.

Goleta estimates its law enforcement contract with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department will increase $720,000 over the next two years, which is a 9-percent jump.

The contract represents a major chunk of the city’s budget and is estimated to be $8.2 million for the 2015-16 year, with a 2.5-percent increase in the contract cost, according to Goleta’s preliminary budget documents. There is an option to fund an extra detective position, at the cost of $230,000 per year, but the City Council is waiting on more information to see if that position is needed.  

Goleta will pay about $5.3 million to Santa Barbara County next year under the Revenue Neutrality Agreement, which hands over a portion of tax revenues on top of the usual municipal contributions. The agreement was signed when the city incorporated and requires the city to split its property tax revenues with the county in perpetuity. It also hands over 30 percent of its sales taxes every year.

Goleta leaders have tried to renegotiate with the county over the years.

“We’re not the city we could be because we don’t have this money,” Councilman Jim Farr said of the RNA.

Goleta needs to “turn up the heat on this until we get respite from this onerous extraction,” he said.

City Manager Michelle Green said consultants may do more public opinion polling to gauge support for a parcel tax measure augmenting library funding. There was support when surveys went out last year, but not enough to make city leaders confident about a ballot measure. Green said support may be higher in a presidential election year, according to past consultant reports.

Goleta would want the parcel tax to apply to properties within the city and unincorporated areas that are served by the library. 

Noozhawk news editor 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.

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