The Seal Beach City Council is expected to look at the $37 million budget for the coming year at the Monday, June 14 meeting.
The Sun recently asked all five council members for their number-one-take-away from the process to date.
• District Four Councilwoman Schelly Sustarsic wrote:
“My number one take-away from the Budget process is that our city managed to come through the pandemic in fairly good shape financially. However, while our long- range forecast does not show large deficits in future years, our ability to take on new debt or pay for large capital projects is still in question.
“In this time of COVID, public participation has been a challenge. The necessity to rely on technology for participation has undoubtedly been difficult for some residents. However, in addition to the three online Budget meetings, the city developed a new community engagement survey and added a direct email address for budget questions and comments. This gave the public several opportunities to submit questions or comments. I value public participation and I hope we can open our meetings back up soon to welcome the public back in person.”
• District Three Councilman Mike Varipapa wrote:
“I was glad to see that the city was able to provide a 5 year financial forecast. This will help us in decision making now and in the near future. The city survey and email correspondence were helpful for the budget process. I am hopeful that for next years budget process we will be back in the council chambers abs able to get more participants.”
• District One Councilman/Mayor Joe Kalmick said:
“I was pleased with the transparency of the information; the ability to go through the budget and know what’s going on.”
He said Finance Director Kelly Telford’s answers to questions from the public were clear. As for public participation in the process: “I was disappointed,” he said.
According to Kalmick, the people who complain about the budget didn’t take the opportunity to participate in the June 1 town hall meeting and ask questions.
• District Two Councilman Thomas Moore wrote:
“I am very pleased that the City is now including a 5 year forecast as part of the budget process. It takes a bit more time to plan, but it is extremely helpful so the City does not get caught with unexpected expenses during the budget period.
“Since it was built from the bottom up with sound projections for each line item, the 5 year forecast can be used as a tool for the City and the Council to project out the implications of spending on large items in future years.
“The participation of the budget process was very good this year with the additional town hall meeting and the use of a survey to get feedback from several hundred residents. It will be even better next year once meetings return to normal and people can attend regular meetings. I anticipate including a survey and town hall meeting will now be a regular part of the process.
“Now that our finance director has had some time to become familiar with Seal Beach over the past year, the finance team has helped the City be extremely transparent, implement additional outreach methods and incorporate a 5 year forecast as part of the budget process. Seal Beach residents should see that the City is in good financial shape looking at the 5 year forecast.”