Sherryl L. Parks | Kalamath Drive
Rookie’s First Budget Ride | Public Works Works | Securing Retirement
Biennial Operating and Capital Budget for Fiscal Years 2013-14 and 2014-15
Fasten your seat belts and lock your doors. Del Mar’s budget workshops, although an 8-hour trip, went by quickly for this rookie councilperson. The overall takeaway for me is that residents can be reassured that our City management is keeping a careful eye on City finances.
Operational budget fine-tuned for service
Scott Huth, City Manager, directed staff to come before Council with proposals to keep spending levels flat while maintaining and enhancing public service. Department heads came before Council to answer any questions we might have. Some departments presented requests for new equipment and for updating technology. Scott announced some consolidation of services with beach maintenance responsibilities going to Public Works while moving lifeguard management and staff from beach maintenance back to lifeguard services; eliminating a vacant lifeguard position. Storm water management is now contracted out.
Capital Improvement Projects (CIP)
Council approved the proposed 2-year CIP for this budget. Lots of planning is needed to keep the infrastructure in town healthy. Funding for the City Hall study received the top priority among Council members. As a cost-saving idea an impressive automated water meter will be tested.
Community Support Funding
Various community groups applied for grants and most were tentatively approved including the Community Resource Center for their Holiday Basket Program, fund for San Dieguito Lagoon Day, Del Mar Historical Society Oral History Project, Del Mar Village Association and Del Mar Community Connections whose transportation services for the elderly will benefit.
Dealing with that Pesky Pension
Del Mar is not alone as a city that must address their pension obligation. Under the guidance of the Finance Committee, whose recommendation is to pay off the Side Fund and set up a reserve, Council indicated they want to move forward with these two recommendations in the next two-year budget.
Innovative look at potential revenues sources
Revenues in town have been flat over the past few years. This year staff prepared a thirty-year forecasting tool in order to analyze whether or not the City can issue bonds for capital projects and to plan their expenditures. This tool enabled us to see where gaps exist.
A few weeks ago Scott sent out an invitation to all staff and council members soliciting ideas for cost-savings as well as new revenue. Five pages of creative and exciting ideas were presented to council in areas of advertising, fees, parking, and operation savings. Council has directed staff to bring back at least one revenue garnering idea, each month for discussion and consideration.
Next Council meeting, June 3 the Operating and CIP will return to Council for review and adoption. Finance Committee will help with Pension side-fund payoff and strategy. By mid-June review and approval of the 10-year CIP will come to Council.
The most important first-step in beginning to plan for City Hall is to compile a comprehensive facilities plan aiming for September 9 when Council will hold a workshop to discuss our new City Hall.
Getting involved during budget-hearings can pay-off
Residents were urged to attend these budget hearings. In fact, this year the staff posted reminder signs at all City Hall buildings and the library, and reminded folks to attend at the City Council meetings. I realized that so much gets decided at this biennial meeting, setting in motion the vision and resources for the next two years. If you want to have an idea of where we are going, be sure to go online at the City’s website and take a look at the budget, once it is adopted by Council.