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City approves $165M budget

Deputies receive 4.8% COLA increase, 6 positions added

Posted: June 11, 2008 2:26 a.m.
Updated: August 12, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 
The Santa Clarita City Council approved the $165 million 2008-2009 balanced city budget with only one modification Tuesday night.

Harsh economic conditions mean this year's budget is tight, city officials say, and the city will likely see no new big projects or programs for awhile.

The city, however, was able to squeeze in a total of six new positions, including a community preservation officer and three new sheriff's deputies.

Also included is a 4.8 percent cost of living increase - almost $800,000 - for the city's contract with the sheriff's department.

City Manager Ken Pulskamp had budgeted a $25,000 cost of living increase for the Santa Clarita Valley Committee on Aging, but council members asked that the city maintain the $25,000 adjustment and give the committee an additional $50,000 because the senior center's Meals on Wheels program is in dire need of funds.

"Meals on Wheels is one of the most important things for our seniors," said Councilwoman Marsha McLean. "It's just really sad when they're running out of money two months ahead of time."

The budget includes two new commuter buses, $200,000 for continuing the Cemex mine opposition effort and $125,000 for cleanup of the 996-acre Whittaker-Bermite contaminated land in the middle of the city.

Pulskamp recommended waiting six months before committing to new projects so the city can evaluate actual revenue.

The priority list for continuing projects include the Santa Clarita Sports Complex and Central Park expansion, the cross-valley connector, the civic center and a site for a Canyon Country Community Center.

Pulskamp said additions to the budget were kept to a minimum and the budget includes only what is absolutely necessary.

"Clearly the city can't do it all," said City Manager Ken Pulskamp. "In a year when most cities are cutting back, we're continuing to provide the same level of services."

Total revenues for the city are projected at $180 million. The general fund, which accounts for half of the city's revenue, is expected to total $87 million, down 1.5 percent from this year's.

The drop is largely due to expectations of zero growth in sales tax revenue. Sales tax is the largest source of revenue for the general fund and usually increases 4 percent each year.

The city is expecting to see a 1 percent increase in spending out of the general fund with expenditures projected at $82 million.

City staff plans to make the recommended adjustment and the budget will come back to the council for adoption on June 24.

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