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September 2009 home page

Watch Your Wallet, Del Mar!

Karen Brust | City Manager

The City of Del Mar is a survivor and we as a City will overcome the State’s decision to fund its own $24 billion deficit through takings of revenues from local government. Although the State’s budget was adopted on July 25, 2009, it is still unbalanced. We have heard that there still may be an approximately $9 to $12 billion deficit outstanding. This seems incredible because the City of Del Mar has pro-actively addressed the economic recessionary impacts of declining sales tax revenue, transient occupancy tax and inflationary costs head on. The Council adopted a two-year budget that implements a plan that requires the City to live within its means. This has been a seven-month process in which management worked collectively to identify cost cutting measures, organizational restructuring and updating, and revenue opportunities to support critical service levels.

With the State’s triggering of Proposition 1A, the City stands to lose $350,000 in property tax revenue that should remain here in our City. The irony of property tax is that for every dollar that our citizens pay in property taxes, only approximately 15 cents stays in our community to fund services. Now the State wants to take another eight percent of the 15 cents in order to meet its budget shortfall. In order to defend Del Mar’s limited resources, we have gone to our lobbyists and legislators advocating a hardship clause that exempts cities with a population less than 5000 from this taking. Due to the on-going legislative clean-up, we are uncertain of the outcome but continue to pursue the preservation of our core revenues.

Be assured that our first priority is meeting critical service levels for our community. Even with staff reductions, flat salaries for non-represented employees for the next two years, no travel for professional development and training, and significant deferrals of capital and equipment, the alternatives to meet a $350,000 additional reduction are daunting. I urge you to write your legislators to protect the limited resources that fund our community.

We may be a City of 5,000, but we have a transient population that far exceeds our census numbers. We have taken a step back to determine how we can ultimately sustain the financial viability of our beautiful community that includes making downtown revitalization a priority, and working with the Fairgrounds to ensure that they are paying for the services they receive and contributing to the capital infrastructure that surrounds their facility. We are also automating our processes to encourage online communications and greater transparency of government operations and we are continuing to update our fees for services such as the planning fees, parking fees and facility use permit fees.

Balance and process is the key to all that we do. The City Council and management has had to made tough decisions to ensure the financial viability of our community in order to ensure we can stand alone as a City.


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