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City braces for budget blow

Santa Clarita might lose $7 million if the state passes its tentative budget

Posted: July 21, 2009 10:20 p.m.
Updated: July 22, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 

The city of Santa Clarita stands to be dealt a nearly $7 million blow if the state approves a tentative budget deal to address its $26.3 billion deficit.

As part of a budget plan announced Monday, the state would borrow $3.2 million in local property tax revenue, $3 million in gas tax revenue and $300,000 in redevelopment money annually for three years, City Manager Ken Pulskamp said Tuesday.

In total, the plan backed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger could borrow $2 billion statewide from municipal property tax revenues, and $1 billion each from local governments’ redevelopment and transportation funding.

“This will be catastrophic for many cities and counties,” Pulskamp said Tuesday.

While the state would be required to repay the borrowed property tax funds within three years, along with interest, the same does not apply for the additional sum of nearly $4 million that would be taken from city coffers, Pulskamp said.

“It’s a very significant amount,” he said.

The city’s spending plan for next fiscal year is about $172 million, including a general fund of nearly $78 million.

Santa Clarita would use money from its reserve fund to compensate for the borrowed tax revenue, the city manager said. The other funding losses would result in delays in road maintenance and downtown Newhall redevelopment.

The city collects about $11 million annually in property tax revenue.

The proposed state budget solution is set to go before the Assembly and Senate for a vote Thursday.

While the budget waiting game continues, the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center is bracing for a major hit.

Included in the proposed deal to address the state’s $26.3 billion deficit is a cut of $226 million from the state in-home supportive services program for the frail and disabled.

Losing in-home care funding is one of the biggest fears for Brad Berens, executive director of the Senior Center.

“We are going to be just overwhelmed,” Berens said. “I expect this to be pretty devastating for us.”

Of the 8,500 seniors the center serves, about 3,000 are frail, primarily home-bound people.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do if our adult-day-care funding goes away,” he said.

The Senior Center ran out of funding for its eight social workers last December, Berens said in late July, forcing him to cut two positions and use reserve funds to pay for the remaining six.

In light of the budget woes, he praised the city of Santa Clarita for a recent grant of $75,000, which he said is a definite asset to the center.

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