Today's NCT story is about the city jumping for joy that they've been overtaxing Encinitas families despite several years of fear mongering:
New employees, programs proposed in Encinitas
By: ADAM KAYE - Staff Writer
ENCINITAS ---- Despite a flagging real estate market, strong property tax income means the city can build increased cash reserves into its $53.4 million budget and pay for new programs and employees, finance officials said Monday.
The information is part of a proposed spending plan for fiscal year 2007-08 that will be considered by the City Council at a 5 p.m. workshop today at City Hall, 505 S. Vulcan Ave.
Also up for debate is the city's six-year financial forecast and capital improvement program.
No action is scheduled today and the council it set to adopt its spending plan on May 23 or June 20.
The plan for fiscal year 2007-08, which begins July 1, shows the city receiving $4.1 million more in revenue than it plans to spend.
Operating budget revenues are anticipated at $53.4 million. That's a $2.4 million or 4.7 percent increase from the present fiscal year.
The projected increase follows a recent pattern: from fiscal years 2004-05 to 2005-06, the budget increased by $1.4 million or 3 percent, from $46.5 million to $47.9 million.
From fiscal 2005-06 to 2006-07 it increased by $3.1 million or 3.1 percent, from $47.9 million to $51 million.
The operating budget, also known as the general fund, pays for employee salaries and benefits, materials and supplies, contract services and debt payments.
Most of the general fund's projected income ---- $33.1 million ---- comes from property taxes.
Property tax revenue is anticipated to increase $2 million or 6.4 percent during fiscal 2007-08. That's because the taxable value of older homes climbs substantially when they are reassessed and sold, said Jennifer Smith, finance director.
While property tax income remains brisk, officials are budgeting for reduced growth in Encinitas' second-biggest income source: sales tax.
Sales tax income for fiscal year 2007-08 is budgeted at $9.1 million. That's a $180,000 or 2 percent increase. During most years, officials anticipate 3 percent to 4 percent sales tax growth, Smith said.
She said new shopping centers in neighboring cities have drawn away customers who previously spent their money in Encinitas. The city also lost one of its top sales tax producers, Mossy Chevrolet, when that business closed last summer, Smith said.
Other income sources for fiscal year 2007-08 include miscellaneous taxes and fees ($3.4 million); licences and permits ($163,000); intergovernmental revenue ($453,000); charges for services ($5.2 million); investment earnings ($991,000) and fines and penalties ($834,000).
The budget's expense column shows employee salaries and benefits as the city's top cost, $22.6 million. Personnel costs in fiscal 2007-08 would increase by $1.4 million or 6.6 percent.
Part of the increase comes from plans to add 3.4 employees to the payroll, which would bring the number of full-time equivalent positions to 240.8 employees.
Two of the positions would support the city's clean-water program. Also budgeted is the $29,000 purchase of a new, off-road vehicle for the "Stormwater Environmental Specialist" to complete his or her duties.
The coastal zone manager's job would increase from a 20-hour to a 36-hour-per-week position.
Another full-time position, program assistant in the Parks and Recreation Department, is proposed to handle registrations at city facilities.
Elsewhere, contract services would represent $20.2 million in fiscal year 2007-08. The largest single contract, to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department for law enforcement services, is budgeted at $11.2 million.
In future years, new expenses include budgeting for maintenance of a planned park in Cardiff. Starting in fiscal year 2010-11, the city will set aside $250,000 for park upkeep. That amount would increase to $500,000 beginning in fiscal year 2011-12.
Starting in fiscal year 2008-09, the budget shows $500,000 annual contributions to a fund to pay for retired employees' health benefits.
Sooner, in fiscal year 2007-08, the operating budget would contribute $3.7 million toward the cost of capital projects planned for the year.
This year, nearly $2 million in unanticipated property tax income has meant the city can increase its rainy-day savings to $9.1 million, or 20 percent of planned expenditures, Smith said.
The Finance Department also has proposed establishing a so-called "budget stabilization reserve" ---- with an initial allocation of $1 million ---- to restore the budget in the event of a recession, she said.
Also up for debate today is an estimated $11.1 million worth of capital improvements, including: $80,000 for the state-mandated collection of hydrologic, hydraulic and water quality data for four lagoons in North County; $15,000 for a community opinion survey; $90,720 for improvements to a new Encinitas Visitors Center on Second Street; $500,000 toward a comprehensive general plan update; and $765,000 to establish a quiet zone at the Chesterfield Drive rail crossing. In recent years, the city has studied how to modify the crossing so it could stay safe if train horns were silenced.
Burning questions: If the budget is so kick ass why were we threatened with street lights going out and a lack of a clean water program? Why doesn't the coastal Leucadia mainsteet on Hwy 101 have a streetscape program and why are Cardiff's alleys still oozing? If the budget is so solid why did the city borrow $20 million in bond debt? Can the city afford to build the $35 million Hall Park? Is there any chance of the city ever reducing fees? Why are our water bills filled with strange increases? Why no mention of the "shoot for the moon" firestations?
>>UPDATE<< Today's NCT.com recap of the budget workshop,
Encinitas mulls $53.4M budget