Seal Beach sets budget hearing for June 13

The Seal Beach City Council will hold a public hearing about the city budget at 7:30 p.m., Monday, June 13.

The current fiscal year ends on June 30.

Next year’s Seal Beach budget has been described as tight.

In fact, a notice of the public hearing, published in the June 2 issue of the Sun, gives the impression that there will be a deficit.

However, the impression is misleading according to City Treasurer Robbeyn Bird.

According to the “Proposed Expenditures” listed in the June 2 notice, the city expects to spend $60.6 million and to take in an estimated $57.8 million.

However, Bird told the Sun that $3.3 million of the expenses represent capital improvement projects being funded from the city’s reserves.

She said that is typical.

Bird said that actually, revenues are expected to exceed expenses by about $207,100.

That figure is slightly less than the $210,000 estimate she gave the City Council during a Monday, April 4 budget workshop.

Seal Beach resident and budget watcher Robert Goldberg gave essentially the same assessment of the budget as Bird.

“The budget is considered balanced because General Fund revenues will exceed General Fund ‘operating’ expenses by about $200,000,” Goldberg wrote in an e-mail to the Sun.

“This is evident in the full budget document, but not in the legal summary that they are required to publish for the public hearing notice,” Goldberg wrote.

“The difference of several million that you are seeing between the (General Fund) revenues and (General Fund) expenditures is due to the use of about $3.2 million of GF reserves for capital improvement projects,” he wrote.

“These projects include $100,000 for trees on Main Street, about $1 million for road improvements, and $2 million for storm drainage projects. This is a relatively small draw-down which will still leave the city with an estimated (General Fund) reserve fund of over $14 million.  This does not include an additional $2 million dollars that the city has set-aside to replace vehicles and equipment,” Goldberg wrote.

However, as previously reported in the Sun, there are some causes for concern in this year’s budget:

• Revenues are down from last year and expenses are up.

• The city jail is running a deficit roughly equivalent to the cost of a full time police officer. Closing the jail, however, could result in long delays while officers are out of the city, processing prisoners at the Orange County Jail. The absence of those officers would have to be covered by having other officers work overtime.

Police overtime is one of the city’s biggest expenses.

• The Tennis Center has consistently run a deficit of about $70,000 a year for each year from 2006 to 2010.