Officials share their takeaways from first budget workshop

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The draft of the proposed Seal Beach budget for the 2019-2020 projects a surplus of a little more than $1 million. The council held a budget workshop last Wednesday and held another this week on Wednesday, June 5, after the Sun’s editorial deadline. The City Council is expected to approve the city budget in June. The Sun asked city officials what they considered the number one take away from the first budget workshop. Here are some of the replies they emailed.

City Manager Jill Ingram said, “My take away is that our City staff team worked very hard over the past five months and presented a fully-balanced budget with a surplus that reinstates previously unfunded essential services and restores lean staffing levels that are critical in our ability to provide the expected high level of service to our community.”

Mayor Thomas Moore said, “The City staff has worked hard to put together a budget for this next year and presented a well-thought out presentation where each department is getting additional funding. I commend the City Manager, Director of Finance & City Staff for being fiscally responsible the past few years by having each department head look at their respective departments and reduce expenses. Last year the Council and City Staff worked hard to get Measure BB passed to help fund more police officers and deal with increased costs related to Fire services. Measure BB increases funding for the City an estimated $4.7M for this budget. This is an estimate where it could be lower or higher since it is the first year Measure BB has taken effect.”

However, Moore expressed concern that the city would only have a $1 million dollar surplus when new revenue was available. He pointed out that the city had eliminated an annual debt by recently paying off a pension obligation bond.

Finance Director/Treasurer Victoria Beatley was unable to confirm the specific figures the mayor gave. “The difference in revenue is about $5.2 million and the final debt service payment was about $1.3 million, Beatley said.

Moore also said, “I proposed the City come back with a $2M surplus and let them adjust this in this budget so we do not have to deal with a deficit again in 2-3 years. Council agreed to have our regularly scheduled CIP [Capital Improvement Program] budget meeting this upcoming Wed(nesday) and I hope we continue discussing ways to trim the budget. I am confident City staff will work with the Council to have a long-term fiscally sustainable budget,” Moore said.

District One Councilman Joe Kalmick said, “As this [is] my first experience being involved in the budget process, it became apparent to me that it might be more effective to have two workshops. The first to ask question and discuss various line items, and a second to give Staff the opportunity to review, make changes and be able to demonstrate what the effect on the bottom line would be. As it stands now, there is tremendous pressure placed on Staff due to the need to complete the process, in addition to reviewing the Capital Improvements Projects.”

District Three Councilman Mike Varipapa

The Sun had not received a reply by deadline for the print edition. If his reply is received before this weekend, it will be added to the Sun website.

District Four Councilwoman Schelly Sustarsic said, “The passage of Measure BB has allowed us to hire police officers and balance our budget, as well as restore essential city services. However, Seal Beach’s financial future health is still very much uncertain. With any budget surplus, a decision must be made on whether to refill our depleted reserves, complete needed infrastructure projects, or reduce our future financial burden by pre-paying pension costs.”

District Five Councilwoman Sandra Massa-Lavitt said, “I am impressed with the level of citizen involvement at the meeting. While there were limited numbers of individuals in attendance, their comments were well thought out and clear. It is obvious that our residents spent many hours reviewing the Draft Budget to develop questions, concerns and comments.”

“Each year the budget preparation is a challenge. Designating how it is allocated is a greater challenge. I admire our community’s interest in our efforts to do a good job. We, the City Council members, are members of the community also and want a budget that expresses the best interest of us all.”

“We are not finished, another draft budget session will be held where everyone can be heard. If you care about our loved little City, get a copy of the budget and know how your taxes, users fees, traffic ticket fees, etc. are being spent. Don’t sit back and complain, participate.”

Treasurer/Finance Director Victoria Beatley said, “My one take away from the budget workshop is this: the budget was prepared based upon the professional expertise of City staff. It is a planning document and a roadmap for spending the City’s resources prudently and thoughtfully throughout the year.”

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