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Marsha McLean: Live from City Hall

Posted: August 3, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 3, 2013 2:00 a.m.
 

Santa Clarita works hard to garner grant and other funding for city improvements, but the fact remains we don’t always have discretion to spend it however we want.

Most funding for our projects comes with very specific guidelines and can only be spent according to the terms set forth by the funding agency.

One question I am frequently asked when it comes to the city budget is: "Why did the City Council decide to fund that project now?" referring to a roadway improvement, a new building, beautification project, or even a public safety project.

There are usually many reasons the city funds projects when it does, but one of the biggest drivers is available funding.

Of the total current budget, more than half, or $96 million, represents expenses that are made possible through the use of special revenue sources. These special revenue sources, which include landscape maintenance districts, transit funds, grants, developer fees and other special assessments, are restricted and must be spent in a certain time frame or on specific projects and operations. The following are a few projects included in this year’s budget that illustrate how the city pulls together funding, including restricted funds, to make things happen in Santa Clarita.

Sand Canyon Road/State Route 14 Beautification Project

This year the city is beautifying the existing on- and off-ramps at Sand Canyon Road and Highway 14 by installing environmentally friendly landscaping and decorative pavement, which is consistent with the city’s goal to beautify all entry corridors.

Funding for this $2.1 million project includes: a gas tax allocation; statewide transportation improvement program — transportation efficiency agency dollars; and landscape maintenance district funds, which are collected from assessed properties in the area as part of annual property taxes.

Sierra Highway and Golden Valley Road Pedestrian Overcrossing Bridge

The city will construct the first paseo bridge in Canyon Country at Sierra Highway and Golden Valley Road. The project is primarily being funded by the developer, Williams Homes.

McBean Regional Transit Center Park-and-Ride

In January, the city broke ground on the 4.9-acre, $6.7-million project to expand the McBean Regional Transit Center by adding 282 spaces for commuters.

The expansion is a partnership project funded by a combination of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act dollars, Air Quality Management District funding and Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority funding.

Safe Routes to School

For seven consecutive years, Santa Clarita has secured state and federal grant funding administered through Caltrans for the Safe Routes to School program. This program includes physical improvements around school sites to calm traffic and increase driver awareness of pedestrians and cyclists.

Since 2007, the city has applied for and received $3.7 million in funding for improvements at 21 schools across Santa Clarita. This year the program will benefit Fair Oaks Ranch, James Foster, Mountainview, Pinetree, Plum Canyon, and Skyblue Mesa elementary schools.

These projects would not be possible without the restricted grant funding, which can only be used for this purpose.

Golden Valley Road Bridge Widening over Highway 14

This project will take the bridge over Highway 14 from one lane in each direction to six total lanes.

We know this is an important improvement that will help accommodate increased traffic volumes now and in the future. The $9.2 million project is being funded with developer-paid Bridge and Thoroughfare fees, landscape maintenance district funds and Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority funding.

Putting together the annual city budget is a big undertaking. The current Fiscal Year 2013-2014 budget is just over $180.6 million, 269 pages long, and provides a detailed review of each city department, priority projects, and funding sources.

Scores of staff work hand in hand with the City Council and city manager to pair the community’s priorities and infrastructure needs with the best possible programs.

For a closer look at this year’s budget, or for additional details about how specific projects in the budget are funded, visit Santa-Clarita.com and type FY 2013-2014 budget in the search field.

Santa Clarita City Councilwoman Marsha McLean can be reached at mmclean@santa-clarita.com.

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