The Santa Paula City Council recently adopted the Fiscal Year 2020/21 Operating and Capital budgets. The balanced budget totals $16.6 million, which includes both the General Fund and Measure T revenues. The budget document, which can be downloaded in full online, contains revenue and expenditure information for all City programs, capital improvement projects and services that will be provided to the Santa Paula community. Despite the expected 11% revenue loss over last year’s budget associated with COVID-19 impacts, which assumes no State or Federal assistance, the City will be able to move forward without sacrificing too much of the forward-facing services they provide to the community each and every day.
In fact, in keeping with the Council’s desire to enhance the Santa Paula community despite the economic slowdown, City staff will be able to address many of the initiatives outlined in the Council’s adopted strategic goals and objectives. This includes addressing economic development, community outreach and public information, emergency preparedness and public safety, homelessness, youth services, and infrastructure needs.
To help make this possible, City staff at all levels pulled together and dug deep to reduce departmental and division expenditures. Cost savings were realized through reductions of both worker’s comp and liability insurance, as well as reductions in supplies and services, travel and training, and equipment purchases. Additionally, various employee incentives have been suspended or reduced for the fiscal year and, beginning July 1, 2020, employees began participating in salary reductions through a work furlough program.
“We know this is not an easy time for our residents or City staff,” said Santa Paula Mayor Rick Araiza. “That being said, we are extremely grateful for the hard work and tough decisions that went into making this balanced budget possible, which will ultimately benefit the entire Santa Paula community.”
In addition to the constraints the City will experience as a result of the pandemic, a number of factors have contributed to the City’s economic outlook in both positive and negative ways.
- Fire Annexation: In entering into an annexation agreement with the County of Ventura for fire services, Santa Paula expanded training, equipment and enhanced resources which work to serve Santa Paula more completely; however, the resulting loss of property tax is estimated to be $3.5 million.
- New Development: Santa Paula is fortunate to see continued growth and re-investment, with East Area 1, Arbor homes, the Harvard Business Park, affordable housing projects and the soon-to-be annexation of some 54 acres for business growth on the west side of town. Collectively these projects bring increased planning fees, Development Impact Fees, job opportunities and increased services to the community.
- Property and Business Improvement District: The recently adopted improvement district for the downtown area is getting underway and, beginning in 2020, is anticipated to generate close to $100,000 per year which will be re-invested in beautification, services, security and events for the downtown.
- Revenue Review: The revenue setbacks associated with the pandemic propel the need to review all of the City’s revenue sources in order to identify opportunities to adjust fees, many of which have not been updated for years, increase income, and pursue new sources of revenue. Staff will undertake this review in the coming year and will return to Council with recommendations.
It is said that a budget “tells a story” in that it demonstrates to the public and the organization the projects, services and priorities valued by the elected body, the City Council. A clear and detailed budget informs the community on the specifics around where their tax dollars come from and how they will be allocated. This year’s Santa Paula budget, as presented, is no different as the City strives to continue to be more transparent over the cost of serving this city and the sacrifices that must be made along the way.
“Despite the heavy impacts coronavirus is having on Santa Paula and towns throughout our region, with the recent adoption of numerous fiscal policies and a doubling of reserves, Santa Paula is on a positive path toward greater sustainability and re-investment,” said Dan Singer, Santa Paula City Manager.