Friday, May 09, 2014

City To Present Preliminary Budget Next Week

In a press release dated May 5, 2014, HERE,  the City of Costa Mesa announced two meetings next week at which the Preliminary 2014/2015 Municipal Budget will be presented to the City Council and the community.

The first meeting will take place as a City Council Study Session on Tuesday, May 13, 2014, beginning at 4:30 p.m. in City Council Chambers.  You can review that agenda HERE.

The second meeting will be an informal question-and-answer session with CEO Tom Hatch and Interim Finance Director Steve Dunivent from 5:30 - 7:00 on Wednesday, May 14, 2014 in Conference Room 1A at City Hall.  In past years this meeting was typically held AFTER the budget was approved and adopted.  This time around residents will have a chance to ask questions BEFORE the council takes final action.
This new budget has an increase of just over 6%, to just under $140 million.  According to the announcement above, the budget is balanced without the use of fund balance and includes among the features summarized are a 42% increase in capital projects over last year; a 14.6% increase in the city's portion of employee retirement costs; a 4% salary increase for police officers; a prepayment of the city's cost of retirement benefits for general employees that will save $226,551; a four-year plan to fund the next generation of emergency communication equipment of $1.6 annually; creation of the Information Technology Replacement Fund that will receive $100,000 to accumulate funds for future replacements and upgrades and an increase in $300,000 in service improvements at the Senior Center.
The council is expected to approve the new budget at its meeting on June 17, 2014.  You can review the 362 page document HERE.  We'll be talking more about this after the two meetings next week.  Providing a "balanced budget" sounds dandy if that budget includes services essential to the community.  This one, for example, continues to perpetuate the deficiency in public safety staffing that we've been experiencing for the past few years but increases capital projects significantly.  Potholes before public safety...

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