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City continues ‘cautious’ game plan for budget

Posted: February 3, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: February 3, 2011 1:55 a.m.
 

The city of Santa Clarita expects a balanced budget for the coming fiscal year, with no new budget cuts for the first time in three years and a near-moratorium on new spending requests.

City Manager Ken Pulskamp met with Santa Clarita City Council members and staff during a joint budget study session Tuesday to outline Santa Clarita’s financial outlook for the 2011-12 fiscal year, which begins July 1.

City officials and staff said they were content with their balanced-budget projection and the securing of $55.4 million in federal and state grants since 2009.

The grant money paid for city projects from roadway improvements and energy-efficiency initiatives to job-placement resources.

“We get a lot of things done, and we do these projects when we have the money for them,” Councilwoman Laurene Weste said.

The city will continue to use a cautious, conservative approach when it comes to new spending, while aggressively pursuing further grant funding to pay for one-time projects Pulskamp said.

The Parks, Recreation and Community Services, Public Safety and Public Works departments are Santa Clarita’s top three general-fund expenses. The general fund is the city’s main fund, where sales- and property-tax revenues are spent.

Weste noted Tuesday that an increasing number of local residents have come to rely on parks services to get through the recession.

“When you’ve got kids and you’re trying to keep them out of trouble ... it’s tough, there’s a lot of hardship,” she said. Weste encouraged city staff to maintain the high level of recreational services it now provides. 

When asked where the risk lies in the proposed budget, Pulskamp said he could not predict whether state government would impinge on the city’s finances next year.

Pulskamp referenced the November 2010 passage of Proposition 22, which bans the state from raiding city funds.

But, “the state historically has been very effective in figuring out loopholes to come back for our money,” he noted.

City officials are scheduled to meet on the budget again during a subcommittee meeting on April 26.

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