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City’s budget is focused on the future

COMMUNITY

Posted: July 13, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: July 13, 2014 2:00 a.m.

City of Santa Clarita/Courtesy photo

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The city’s budget is our blueprint for success – a reflection of our priorities and a roadmap for progress. I’m proud to say that our 2014-2015 budget is a great example of our community’s strength and vitality.

The city’s new fiscal year begins July 1, and as our city has done every year since incorporation, the City Council adopted a balanced and on-time budget with a very healthy reserve.

The 2014-2015 budget includes $191.5 million for operating expenses and our capital improvement program, with a focus on improving the city’s aging infrastructure and setting aside funding to proactively address future needs.

Santa Clarita’s general fund revenue is up by 3 percent when compared to last year. The city receives one cent for every dollar spent in the city through sales tax, so this year’s increase is the result of increased consumer spending.

The economy continues to show signs of improvement and economic forecasts indicate stability for the foreseeable future, which is encouraging.

The city’s budget philosophy has remained consistent through the years, which has helped contribute to Santa Clarita’s financial stability.

We know economic fluctuations are inevitable, so we remain focused on maintaining balance and spending responsibly, while also saving for the future.

We continue to run lean as an organization, use conservative five-year projections, have diversified our revenue streams, and still contract out when we believe a better service can be provided for the cost.

This year, the city increased its operating reserve to 18 percent, or $14.5 million. Our goal remains to have a 20 percent reserve moving forward.

A detailed look at the approved budget will be online soon at Santa-Clarita.com/budget.

In the meantime, you can find an informative, easy-to-read infographic on the city’s budget web page. The graphic highlights our goals for this year, and provides a visual picture of where the money comes from and where it is allocated, as well as several interesting, quick reference facts.

The biggest focus in this year’s budget is the city’s aging infrastructure.

In the last few decades, the city has focused on building new facilities, roads, parks and other amenities to meet the demands of our community.

We are at a point now where it is critical to invest in improvements and upgrades to our existing roads, buildings, bridges, sidewalks, parks and libraries.

You’ll see that $22.5 million in this year’s budget has been set aside to address these projects, which include things like a new roof at the Valencia Library branch and improvements to various streets and thoroughfares to enhance driving conditions and provide safer commutes.

We will continue with our city-wide beautification efforts along Railroad Avenue, Sierra Highway and Soledad Canyon Road.

Providing greater connectivity along the city’s trail system and enhancing access to open space remain priorities for the City Council.

In the coming year, the city is working on access improvements to the 1,300 acres of open space at Golden Valley Ranch, while also enhancing the entrance to the Haskell Canyon open space, which will be visible from Copper Hill Drive.

We will also be connecting the trail on Golden Valley Road to Soledad Canyon Road at the Golden Valley Road Bridge, allowing cyclists and pedestrians to access both paths without leaving the trail system.

We have set aside funds in this year’s budget for future projects and improvements, as well as programs that meet the changing needs of the city.

This year’s budget includes an increase in support of the Senior Center and Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley, which offer important programs and services.

The city also has allocated funds to conduct a planning and public participation process to help explore reconfiguring Old Orchard Park. The park was built in 1968, and its facilities and infrastructure are in need of updates to meet current and future demands.

We’ve also allocated funds to help bring new vehicle charging stations to the city, increased grant funding for local nonprofit community service and arts agencies, and will be moving forward with design of a new tennis complex at Central Park.

The City Council and city staff worked hard to create a budget that not only addressed the needs of today, but proactively meets the needs of tomorrow.

Santa Clarita is a very different community today than it was at incorporation. However, what has remained consistent through the years is the city’s strong leadership and an unwavering commitment to responsible spending that supports a high quality of life in our city.

Mayor Laurene Weste is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council and can be reached at lweste@santa-clarita.com.

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