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Laurene Weste: Budget includes more than $50M in projects

Live From City Hall

Posted: July 23, 2010 10:35 p.m.
Updated: July 24, 2010 4:30 a.m.
 

The city of Santa Clarita’s 2010-11 budget includes more than $50 million in capital projects and a whopping $36.5 million in grant funding.  The new, balanced budget adopted on-time by the Santa Clarita City Council, includes a 15-percent reserve fund totaling more than $10 million.

When it comes to budget, the City Council’s mantra has always been, “The decisions we make during the good times are more important than the decisions we make during the bad times.” Many cities often see good times as an opportunity to increase programs and take on other ongoing costs that can burden a budget in difficult times.  That isn’t the way we do business in Santa Clarita.

 The Santa Clarita City Council has historically treated the good times as an opportunity to be proactive and strategic, because history has shown that the economy has its ups and downs.  During the good years when Santa Clarita experienced a hale and hearty flow in revenues and a growing local economy, the City Council was mindful of spending levels and made decisions that balanced the desire to add amenities with caution about what the future may hold.  This conservative approach to spending, budgeting and investing has positively affected Santa Clarita’s bottom line.

Today’s budget reflects our city’s ability to stay true to our day-to-day business practices and values that help to make Santa Clarita a special place for doing business, raising a family and enjoying a superior quality of life.

For the new fiscal year, the Sheriff’s budget, which is $19.6 million, is the only department to which the city made no cuts this year.  The public-safety expenditure reflects the City Council’s deep commitment to making sure Santa Clarita continues to be one of California’s safest cities.

The majority of the capital improvement program budget is allocated for the Newhall Library at $19.3 million, which is currently under construction at the corner of Lyons Avenue and Main Street in Old Town Newhall.  Additional city expenditures planned for the new fiscal year include bikeway improvements, landscaping and beautification projects, bridge maintenance, a landscape water management program, a new master plan for the Pioneer Oil Refinery, a new cross-country course at Central Park, pedestrian improvements to Newhall Avenue, traffic improvements, the “One Valley, One Vision” joint general plan and trails at East Walker Ranch open space.  And at the request of our residents, the city is spending nearly $9 million this fiscal year on road resurfacing and improvements throughout the community, to assure a smooth ride on city streets.

The city of Santa Clarita was very successful in garnering grant funding for the new fiscal year topping $36 million.  This includes a large amount of Federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, amounting to more than $17 million.  These federal funds will be used to pay for 19 projects ranging from road and bridge improvements and transit-system upgrades to energy efficiency retrofits and building facade improvements. 

Additional grant monies, which are tied to specific projects and programs, total $19 million and include funds for road, traffic and pedestrian improvements, landscape beautification, law enforcement, transit upgrades and recycling enhancements.

Due to the economy, Santa Clarita’s revenues are down across the board.  The city reduced expenses and made cuts in every city department except public safety to help assure that service levels continue to be high for our residents and that important city programs continue in the community. 

The city’s new budget for fiscal year 2010-11, which began July 1, 2010, is available to the public online at www.santa-clarita.com.

Laurene Weste is the Mayor of the city of Santa Clarita and can be reached at lweste@santa-clarita.com. Her column reflects her own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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