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Balancing Del Mar's Checkbook
April 2009 | Crystal Crawford, Mayor, and Bertha Leone, Crest

California state law requires that each city adopt a balanced budget no later than July 1 of every year. In Del Mar, the process began in mid-January with the goal of developing a balanced, two-year budget. As compared to prior years, the process is more challenging given the current economic downturn.

The City Council initiated the budget process on January 17th by holding a strategic retreat and team building session with a twofold purpose: to review Del Mar’s history, structure, organization and process as it relates to executing priorities with the new and incumbant councilmembers, and to discuss the City Council’s current priorities and those for the next two years. During this meeting, the Council participated in a visioning exercise in which each member shared what they would like to see Del Mar accomplish by the year 2013.

The second step in the process took place on March 7th with the City Council and department heads participating in a goal setting session to discuss key priorities for the upcoming fiscal year. This meeting began with a review of the Council’s high priority items and initiatives of fiscal year 2008-2009, a look at estimated revenues and projected expenses for the next several years, and a discussion of the assumptions used when the Council adopted the “Finnell Plan” several years ago. The Council looked at resources and tools available to achieve the City’s priorities in the upcoming budget, including revenue enhancement and increased operational efficiencies. Several key priorities were agreed upon: a Balanced Budget (staying financially sound), Downtown Revitalization including Streetscape, the Torrey Pines Bridge, the 21st Street Pump Station, and Grant Funding Strategies, especially as they relate to the 17th Street Beach Safety Center and Fire Safety.

Because of the current economy and limited funds available from Sacramento, it is imperative that Del Mar develop new sources of revenue or reduce expenditures. That being said, this is an excellent time for us to maximize available funding for doing projects. More contractors are interested in bidding on Del Mar projects than in recent years, and the bids are coming in much lower than expected.
The City staff will now prepare a proposed budget focusing on the Council’s priorities and ensuring that it is balanced and achievable. The proposed budget plan will ensure that the City continues to deliver services to residents, businesses and visitors in accordance with applicable federal and state laws, while completing capital expenditure projects within the constraints of available revenues.

In early May, the City Manager and staff will present the Council with a proposed budget for the upcoming two fiscal years, which runs from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010 and July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011. Two public budget workshops are scheduled for Wednesday May 20th and Thursday May 21st, during which time Del Mar residents will have the opportunity to review the recommendations and offer suggestions, opinions and direction. Residents who are unable to attend are encouraged to email their input to a council member.

All city budget documents are public. Once presented to the City Council, the proposed budget will be available for review in the library, on the city’s website: www.delmar.ca.us, and at City Hall for review or purchase.



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