On Monday, June 21, the La Verne City Council formally adopted its budget for Fiscal Year 2021-2022. The City held two budget study sessions on May 17 and June 7 for City Council to provide staff with additional direction and for the public to provide comments on budgetary priorities. Based on these recommendations, City staff drafted the FY 21-22 budget proposal that was presented and unanimously approved by the City Council.
The La Verne City Council’s primary objective is to provide important services to the community by understanding its needs, proactively planning, providing financial stability, and hiring and retaining quality personnel. These principles guided the City throughout the budgeting process and ensured that program and department allocations were aligned with the Council.
The City’s planned expenditures for the coming year total $63.4 million with public safety, which includes fire and police services, public works and capital improvements collectively comprising over 88% of the total budget – a somewhat typical spending breakdown for most cities since these spending areas are foundational to everyday life. The revenues for the City’s budget are generated from a combination of property taxes, charges for current services, rent for public facilities, fines, license and permit fees, utility user taxes and sales tax. These revenues are projected to cover nearly $61 million of the City’s expected expenditures, with other expenses covered by grants and other revenue sources.
Grants are especially important to help fund major infrastructure projects, allowing the City to allocate $6.9 million to 16 fully funded capital improvement projects over the next year. This includes street and sidewalk repair work, investing in new equipment, water, sewer and stormwater upgrades as well as public safety enhancements. Residents can learn more about the City’s capital improvement plans for the next year on the City’s website.
This approved budget also allocates funds toward the City’s Community Services Department to support the City’s residents with social, active and healthy recreational opportunities. This year’s budget plans for increased Community Services program participation as the coronavirus pandemic restrictions slowly subside.
As part of the budget process, the City Council also discussed funding related to the City’s fire and emergency services. Based on Council’s direction, funds have been included in the FY 21-22 budget to pursue a Standards of Response Coverage study to determine how resources can best be deployed to meet actual community needs, maintain plans to reopen Station 3 with paramedic and
ambulance transport services once the remaining firefighter paramedics positions are filled, and complete recruitment and selection of a permanent fire chief.
During last year’s budgeting process, the City programmed over $1 million from reserves to mitigate the potentially disastrous effects that the pandemic could have had on the City’s budget. While this caution was necessary due to the constant unpredictability of the pandemic, the City’s finances fared much better than expected and was able to increase its projected General Fund reserve balance from $9.4 million to $9.8 million. While this reserve balance is nearly 23% lower than the Council’s desired 20% of expenditures, the City continues to prioritize the maintenance and growth of City reserves for truly unexpected costs or future financial obligations.
Fortunately, the City is expecting to receive an allocation of funds through the federal American Recovery Act of around $6 million. The City plans to use these funds to replenish reserve funds to build up the City’s resiliency against other unpredictable future events, cover any COVID-19 expenses from the past year that were not approved through FEMA, as well as any other COVID-related expenses that may be incurred through the year 2024. Remaining funds will be used to provide assistance programs to reinvigorate the local economy as well as infrastructure projects.