Council approves city budget

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The City Council unanimously approved the budget for Fiscal Year 2021-22 this week.

Budget

The budget document took up most of the 1,526-page agenda for the Monday, June 14, reading. It was made available online the previous Friday, June 11. 

According to the budget document, Seal Beach had until June 30 to approve a balanced budget, which is required by the City Charter.

“Citywide revenues are estimated at $53.5 million, a 13% decrease from the Amended Fiscal Year 2020-21Budget,” according to the city manager’s message in the budget. (See page 1 of “Proposed Operating & Capital Improvement Budget Fiscal Year 2021-2022.”)

The figures in City Manager Jill Ingram’s message refer to all of the city government’s funds. 

“Due to a lean budget in Fiscal Year 2020-21 and many deferred items related to the COVID-19 pandemic, certain items have been re-budgeted from prior years resulting in the one-time use of $470,800 in General Fund savings from prior years,” wrote Finance Director/Treasurer Kelly Telford in her staff report for this week’s council meeting.

Page 56 of the budget shows the General Fund—which is one of 11 city funds—projecting revenues for the General Fund at $37,464,500.

The projected General Fund costs (or “expenditures”), shown on the same page: $37,185,300.

In some places, the budget had to work with assumptions because information wasn’t available.

“The Police Officers Association, Police Management Association and Seal Beach Marine Safety Management Association had not entered into new agreements at the time the budget was prepared, therefore an estimate of 2 percent has been included,” according to the city manager’s budget message. 

The labor negotiations for these groups were on the closed session City Council agenda.

According to City Attorney Craig Steel, the council took no reportable action during the closed session item.

Discretionary fund

District Two Councilman Thomas Moore asked for the restoration of the council discretionary fund to $20,000 for each member. The proposed budget had allotted $10,000 for each council member. Moore had brought up the issue previously.

The other council members agreed to the change, which was made part of the motion to adopt the budget at the suggestion of the city attorney.

Moore said the discretionary funds had been $20,000 as far back as he could remember. He felt the 50% reduction in the budget document was unnecessary. 

District Three Councilman Mike Varipapa said he had no problem with the restoration. He suggested a “use it or lose it” clause.

District Four Councilwoman Schelly Sustarsic also supported restoring the discretionary funds to the historical amount.

District Five Councilwoman Sandra Massa-Lavitt said she had no objection to the $20,000 funds.

District One Councilman/Mayor Joe Kalmick agreed with Moore. According to Kalmick, with increased construction costs, $10,000 didn’t stretch very far.

Kalmick opened the public hearing on the budget.

City Clerk Gloria Harper said there were no speakers on the phone.

Kalmick closed the hearing.

Capital Improvement projects

As previously reported, Seal Beach has changed the way it finances improvement projects—the construction and software projects that include the Pier, the parking lots, the water system, the sewer system, and lifeguard headquarters.

“During Fiscal Year 2021-22, the Public Works Department is expected to spend approximately $10 million on capital projects,” according to the budget. 

“In addition, approximately $6.8 million is being carried over from the Fiscal Year 2020-21 appropriations. This is only an estimate and could change as the Public Works Department continues to make progress on various projects,” according to the budget. 

The pool project, a possible restaurant at the end of the pier, and the remodel or replacement of Lifeguard Headquarters are still under review by city staff.

Council approves city budget