City Council approves budget with $1.45 million surplus

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Seal Beach City Council votes to approve 2019-20 city budget. Photo by Jeannette Andruss

The Seal Beach City Council on Monday, June 24, unanimously approved a 2019-20 city budget with a projected surplus of $1,456,200. The decision came after council members discussed further adjustments to the budget during the public hearing. Revenues are projected to be $35,726,400.

The City Charter required the council to approve the budget by June 30.

In related news, the council unanimously approved parking fees in public hearing that took place after the budget hearing.

“While this budget is not ideal, I will support it because I feel we made an effort to limit spending,” said Mayor Thomas Moore.

He said the council went through the budget more carefully than usual.

Among the various items council members discussed was a new CAD system for the Marine Safety Department (basically the Lifeguards). Marine Safety Chief Joe Bailey had initially estimated $100,000 for the project. After further discussion, Bailey said the project would take about two years. City staff applied $50,000 to the 2019-20 budget and $100,000 to the following year.

Bailey said the new CAD system would reduce response time.

In response to a question from Mayor Moore, city Treasurer/Finance Director Victoria Beatley recommended traffic impact funds be used for the Main Street revitalization plan.

City Manager Jill Ingram pointed out that staff would have to come back to the council with a contract for the project.

During the public hearing on the budget, Joyce Parque said she was upset about the in lieu parking funds. She said the people that paid the fees were upset that the money was not being spent on a parking garage. She also said she didn’t understand the city had to pay for a bus from Leisure World.

Seal Beach Robert Goldberg said this year’s budget did not contain an estimate of the impact of prospective fee changes.

However, during a related public hearing on cost recovery fees for city services, Senior Accounting Technician Michelle Marquez said that this year, most of the city’s departments kept fee increases to CPI adjustments.

During the fee hearing, Goldberg asked why the proposed parking lot fee was still in the budget even though it had not been approved by the California Coastal Commission

He also said he would like to know staff’s revenue projections from CPI adjustments.

During the budget hearing, Goldberg also asked if the budget included pay raises for part time employees. He thanked the council for their time. “Looking forward to a better process next year,” Goldberg said.

Officials reflect on budget

The Sun asked officials for their number one takeaways from the budget hearing.

“I appreciate the City coming back with the 10% reduction in spending along with some other concessions to give us about a $1.5M surplus. Also, I hope that more revenue comes in than expected so we can have more of a cushion for the future and can start replenishing our reserves,” said Mayor Moore.

“The Council agrees we need to improve the budget process,” said Moore. “Some ideas were to start earlier, have a budget committee, include long term projections as part of the process, and also include long term items like replenishing the sand, fixing the storm drain system in both downtown and College Park East, and deal with the unfunded pension liability so Seal Beach is in a good solid position 5-10 years from now. There is a plan to discuss this at the next strategic planning session in September.”

District Five Councilwoman Sandra Massa-Lavitt said, “It’s balanced. There’s a revenue surplus. Yeah!”

District Three Councilman Michael Varipapa said: “That the city council went over the budget items meticulously and responsibly and were able to make incisive decisions and cuts.”

Finance Director Beatley said: “This budget will positively effect Seal Beach residents as it restores essential services that were cut back in order to balance the budget.”