Santa Cruz Good Times

Friday
Mar 27th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

New Budget Better Than Before

budgetThe city gets closer to approving its 2013 budget

The fact that the city’s budget dealings in recent weeks have been met by little upset may be a sign of increasing economic stability.

The Santa Cruz City Council unanimously approved to resolve last-minute changes to its Fiscal Year 2013 Budget at its June 26 meeting—the last opportunity for changes to be made or questions answered about the proposed budget, which they have been in deliberation about for months. The council also moved to vote on the final version at its July 10 meeting.

The outlook is good, despite a projected $3.3 million deficit in the coming year, says Marc Pimentel, director of finance for the City of Santa Cruz. Pimentel took up his position part way through the deliberations for the FY 2013 Budget, and says Santa Cruz is doing relatively well.

“Historically, even when [Santa Cruz has] had projected deficits, it’s always been able to finish the year balanced,” Pimentel says. “And as a whole, $3.3 [million] is big, but it’s less than 5 percent of our budget. It’s a really achievable level.”

Pimentel says Santa Cruz has actually reduced its deficit from a projected $8 million in February 2009—a sign that, to him, signals stability. He calls this year’s budget a “status quo” budget, as opposed to the reduction-heavy budgets that were common in past, post-recession years.

This anti-climactic nature perhaps contributed to the almost silent public comment period that followed the finalization of the proposed budget at the June 26 council meeting.

In Fiscal Year 2012, Santa Cruz had a structural deficit of $2.9 million. Pimentel says a large part of this year’s deficit increase comes from the council fulfilling its obligation to voters to fund road repairs and other items through Measure H, a .25 utility tax hike passed in 2006 to help fund road repairs, city parks maintenance and public safety, and also a 1.5 percent utility tax hike passed in 2010 to fund public safety. The revenues to be spent on the Measure H commitment to road repairs amount to $1.6 million in a capital cost.

This year, the city was also left to cover the previously state-funded redevelopment agency and the services it entails. After the state ended its funding for redevelopment agencies, Santa Cruz decided to fund the local agency itself through its General Fund.

“The state continues to take money away from cities,” City Manager Martin Bernal says. “It’s not until the state budget is balanced that the overall economy is in much better shape.”

Even if the city ended with a $3.3 million deficit next June, Bernal says that Santa Cruz currently has enough reserves to cover that projection. Pimentel adds that the city has not had to dip into those reserves for several years.

“The goal is to, over the long term, have a recurring budget that doesn’t project a deficit moving forward,” Bernal says. In order to do that, he says, “we have to be proactive about it.”

The city plans to tackle its structural, or recurring, costs through strategies developed by three tasks forces: the first is a revenue task force, which may present a plan at city council’s July 10 meeting to put a Transient Occupancy Tax increase on the 2012 election ballot; the second is an organizational review task force, which works at reorganizations of the general fund; and the third is a competitiveness task force, which helps reduce the barriers that allow businesses to come into town and also allows existing businesses to grow, Pimentel says.

Organizational review in itself is projected to save the city almost $1 million over two years, Pimentel says. The city also plans on supplementing the community sacrifices outlined in the task forces reports in order to finish the year balanced, adds Pimentel.

“We are going to be working with all departments on continuing reduction strategies internally,” Pimentel says. “With all four of these strategies we feel really confident in bridging that gap.” 

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Best of Santa Cruz 2015

In 40 years of publishing, Good Times has seen a lot of “bests.”

 

Spring Triangle: Three Spring Festivals—Aries, Taurus, Gemini

The Spring signs Aries, Taurus and Gemini constitute a triangle of force that sets the template for the nine signs that follow and the template for the entire year (Spring 2015 - Spring 2016) ahead. Aries initiates new ideas, Taurus stabilizes the new thinking of Aries and Gemini takes the initiating stabilized ideas of Aries/Taurus and disperses them to all of humanity. It is in this way that humanity learns new things, with the help of Mercury, the messenger. As Spring unfolds, three elements emerge: the Fire of Aries (initiating new ideas), the Earth of Taurus (anchoring the ideas of God through Mercury) and the Air of communicating Gemini. These three signs/elements are the Three Spring Festivals. They are the “triangle of force” forming the template (patterns) of energy for the upcoming new year. After these three we then have the soothing, calming, warming, nurturing and tending waters of the mother (Cancer). Cancer initiates our next season under the hot suns of summer. Planets, stars and signs create the Temple of Light directing humanity towards all things new. March 29 is Palm Sunday, when the Christ, World Teacher, was led into Jerusalem (City of Peace) on a donkey (humility). Palms waving above His head, signified recognition of the Christ’s divinity. Palm Sunday is the Sunday before the Easter (Resurrection Festival). Palm Sunday begins Holy Week, the week of capture, imprisonment, passion, sacrifice, crucifixion, death and resurrection of the christ. All events in the Christ’s life represent events (initiations) that humanity experiences through many lifetimes. We turn our attention to these holy events this week. Their concepts portray and reveal to us greater spiritual understanding. Then, Aries, the “light of life itself” shines through us.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

The Magic Touch

Stage magician vs. charlatans in engaging ‘An Honest Liar’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Spring Spirits

Sean Venus’ gin straight up, remembering Rosa’s and a tasting of Hungarian wines

 

What’s your favorite most recent outdoor discovery in Santa Cruz?

A hike that’s across from Waddell Beach. I didn’t realize you could go across the highway and do a super simple loop, and it’s beautiful. You can see the coastline. Liz Porter, Santa Cruz, Community Outreach

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Muscat 2012

 

Front Street Kitchen

Pop-up spot attracts paleo crowd with locally sourced low-carb meals