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Frank Ferry: Council adopts budget

Live From City Hall

Posted: June 23, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: June 23, 2012 1:55 a.m.
 

The Santa Clarita City Council adopted its 2012-13 budget on June 12 continuing its 100-percent track record for an on-time, balanced budget with a 16 percent general fund reserve.

This year's budget, which totals approximately $183 million, is in a much better place than it was three years ago, at the start of the Great Recession. We are seeing positive changes in the local economy, such as a declining unemployment rate, a healthy increase in local sales tax revenues and a rise in home sales.

Santa Clarita embraced several budget practices over the years that have been very successful and include: The decisions made in the good times are more important than the decisions made during the bad times; always live below your means; run a lean organization; use conservative five-year projections; employ full cost recovery when setting fees; diversify your revenue; use one-time money only for one-time expenses and when in doubt, contract out.

In 2012, which is the city's 25th year of cityhood, we are processing seven annexation applications, which will add 6,700 acres and an estimated 25,870 residents to our city.

In addition to focusing on annexations, this year's city budget is giving special attention to older communities in the city by improving public safety, infrastructure and adding beautification projects.

This year, our city was successful in securing $14 million for our capital improvement program. This grant money will enable our city to bring you several new projects.

In Canyon Country, the city will widen the Golden Valley bridge to six lanes over Highway 14, providing much-needed improved traffic flow to the area. This multimillion dollar project, which also includes the addition of sidewalks on the north side and a shared bike path on the south side, will begin this fiscal year and likely take 18-24 months to complete.

In the area of public safety, the city is increasing its annual budget for law enforcement and adding two deputies to provide increased enforcement, specifically for the Canyon Country area.

This is in direct response to concerns expressed by area residents, as well as the annexation of new eastside neighborhoods to the city.

The city is also working on some other major capital projects this year, including opening up the new community center in Canyon Country and improving road and pedestrian areas (Safe Route to Schools program) around three schools: Sky Blue Mesa, Pinetree and James Foster elementary schools.

We will be under way with the new Park and Ride at the McBean Transfer Station and will widen the bridge on McBean Parkway near the Valencia post office from six lanes to eight lanes, plus the addition of a new bike path this year.

Also in Valencia, the city will be expanding the parking lot at the Valencia Library, adding 27 more spaces plus landscaping, irrigation and lighting.

To help keep our city's roads smooth and pothole-free, we will be spending nearly $7 million this year on our annual overlay program. Another $550,000 will be spent on the city's sidewalk repair program, fixing sidewalks damaged by tree roots citywide.

Santa Claritans enjoy an active lifestyle, so this year, the city will be exploring opportunities to add additional field space by expanding existing facilities at Central Park and the Santa Clarita Sports Complex.

The Santa Clarita Public Library will receive thousands of dollars in new books and media this upcoming year, plus a whole host of regular programs (and online services) will be offered at the three branches.

Many of the ongoing programs, projects and events you have come to enjoy in the city will continue this coming year, including: the annual marathon, Cowboy Festival, Senses on Main, Veterans Day, Concerts in the Park, summer aquatics, Camp Clarita, Fourth of July, Earth/Arbor Day, River Rally and so much more.

For a complete look at the city's programs and events, visit the city's main website community calendar at www.santa-clarita.com.

For a complete look at the city's annual budget, go to the city's website at: www.santa-clarita.com.

Frank Ferry is the mayor of Santa Clarita and can be reached at fferry@santa-clarita.com.

 

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