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City faces $68.6M budget reduction

Posted: June 9, 2009 8:47 p.m.
Updated: June 10, 2009 1:39 p.m.

With the adoption date drawing nigh, the City Council got a look Tuesday night at Santa Clarita’s proposed budget for the coming fiscal year.

The $171.9 million draft budget for 2009/10 reflects a 29 percent — or $68.6 million — drop from the current fiscal year.

The drop is due in part to reductions in the general fund, and fewer capital projects.

The 2008/09 budget, for example, included $23 million for the Golden Valley Road bridge annd $18 million for the Magic Mountain Parkway/Interstate 5 interchange project.

Included in the budget is a $77.6 million general fund that is down roughly 4 percent.

The city will have about $10 million as an operating reserve, according to a budget summary. That is a drop from the 2008/09 reserve of about $11.6 million.

Reserve funds can be used for one-time expenses. For example, funds from the city’s operating reserve were part of the $26 million spent in the wake of the 1994 Northridge earthquake that devastated the region.

The budget is scheduled to be adopted June 23, and the fiscal year lasts from July 1 to June 30.

The budget overview comes as the city manager’s office reports the city has seen a 16-percent drop in general-fund revenues since the beginning of the recession.

Additionally, office and retail vacancies in the city have reportedly risen from 12 percent to 18.6 percent, and 3 percent to 5.6 percent, respectively.

The budget for parks, recreation and community services has seen a drop to $20.2 million, down about a half-million from $20.7 million in the 2008/09 budget.

Though millions of dollars’ worth of projects were cut from the capital improvement project budget, it still tops out at about $27.9 million.

Among the capital projects on tap for the coming year is a $720,000 project to replace outdated irrigation hardware. This is aimed at reducing the city’s water use by about 10 million gallons per year, according to a budget report.

City officials spent the last several months trimming already conservative department budgets, shaving about $4 million off the budget in the last month.

Reductions were made in several ways, according to Pulskamp’s summary.

A number of expenses were transferred from the general fund to the special revenue fund; 20 open job positions were frozen, including a community preservation officer and a supervising building inspector; outsourcing budgets were trimmed; temporary employee, overtime and training budgets were slashed; and there have been reductions in printing and postage costs and electrical use.



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