City Council concerned about revenue

Four council members expressed concern city revenues following the first of a two-day workshop on the city budget. The first workshop was held Monday, May 2. The budget will be formally adopted in June.

The May 2 workshop on  capital improvement projects was held after the Sun’s editorial deadline. (We’ll cover that next week.)

“My number one takeaway is that with the economy slowing a little, expenses are outpacing revenue,” wrote District Two Councilman/Mayor Tom Moore on May 2.

“It will be more difficult in future years to balance the budget, but I am happy this year the budget is balanced and the financial team did a great job of breaking down the revenue and expenses,” Moore wrote.

“The 2023 budget has many graphs and explanations by department and by fund making it clear to the council and to the public where money is being spent,” Moore wrote.

Mayor Moore wrote that he was looking forward to an analysis of the three-to-five-year plan and the discussion of the city’s capital improvement (facilities and infrastructure) program at the May 2 workshop.

District One Councilman Joe Kalmick saw a need to increase revenues.

“My takeaway from the first budget workshop was that it was clear that going forward we have a revenue problem,” Kalmick wrote.

“Each City department has cut back wherever possible, and postponed larger projects such as maintaining infrastructure. Our operating overhead continues to outpace revenues, and I believe that we are going to have to focus on increasing our revenues,” Kalmick wrote.

District Five Councilman Nathan Steele saw a challenge.

“I was impressed by the fact that City Manager Jill Ingram, Finance Director Barbara Arenado and all of our department directors were able to close a $2 million dollar gap to bring city budget into balance for this fiscal year,” wrote District Five Councilman Nathan Steele.

The Sun has requested confirmation of that figure from the city.

“Seal Beach is dealing with an array of economic forces like rapidly rising costs, revenue constraints due to economic slowdown, and increasing Sacramento Mandates that contribute nothing to our quality of life,” Steele wrote.

“Bringing our limited resources into balance for this fiscal year was no small feat,” Steele wrote.

District Three Councilwoman Lisa Landau argued that Seal Beach needs to look for new revenue.

“I am very pleased that City staff has worked very hard to present a balanced budget for Council consideration that maintains the same high level of programs and services to our community,” Landau wrote.

“While it’s encouraging that the FY 2023-24 budget is balanced, based on our five-year financial forecast, the City is bracing for potential deficits in the future as expenses are projected to exceed revenues,” Landau wrote.

“To ensure that we can sustain current service levels delivered by a lean staffing model, it is absolutely critical that we as the City Council proactively and seriously consider all opportunities to generate new revenue streams for the long-term financial health of our city,” Landau wrote.

District Four Councilwoman Schelly Sustarsic wrote: “My number one takeaway from the May 1st budget presentation is that while our city’s revenues may be decreasing a somewhat in future years, our expenditures (equipment, materials, services, salaries and benefits) will continue to increase.”