Council revises two-year plan
The Goleta City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to amend the city’s two-year operating budget to make up for revenues lost because of COVID-19.
The council spent most of its long meeting discussing the operating and capital improvement program budgets, which were originally part of the two-year program that the city adopted in June 2019.
“I think we all had hopes it would be a different budget and had high hopes for what we might be able to accomplish with the second year of our two-year budget,” council member James Kyriaco said before moving to adopt the revisions.
“But we are where we are, and I think staff has done a really good job, under incredibly difficult conditions of coming up not just with a budget, but with a strategy for how to move forward,” he said. “I think it’s going to just be incumbent upon us to support them going forward and continue searching for any and all solutions.”
Another agenda item Tuesday was about a second round of polling for a potential 1% sales tax increase that could appear on the November ballot.
The increase, if enacted, would be to help the city of Goleta recoup some losses during COVID-19, including decreased revenue from sales tax and transient occupancy tax.
City Manager Michelle Greene and Finance Director Luke Rioux presented the additional amendments for the fiscal year 2020/2021 as well as possible solutions.
Ms. Greene said the city’s revenues have “declined at an alarming rate” after a decrease in spending on many kinds of goods. The decrease followed the stay-at-home order.
She went on to say that while the staff has worked very hard in setting revenue projections to keep the city on a steady path toward recovery, this is still an unpredictable time.
“What this means is that we will need to be flexible. We’ll need to make adjustments frequently as new information is received and also as we start to receive revenue in the new fiscal year. This is something we will discuss with the council continually,” Ms. Greene said.
Goleta is looking at a loss of 5.9 million, or a 20.5% revenue loss, for the year 2021, and the staff is attempting to close that gap through “a combination of various expenditure reductions and some limited use of the unassigned fund balance from the general fund,” Ms. Greene said.
There are three projections for the Goleta budget. The first is the most optimistic, while the third is the most pessimistic.
The second, which is what Ms. Greene and the rest of the staff recommends, is the scenario where recession is present throughout the entirety of fiscal year 2021.
“It’s not a long term-financial solution,” Ms. Green said about the second scenario. “It’s just a measure to help us continue into the next fiscal year.”
Some of the recommended reductions would add up to the city saving about $106,000 in salaries and $1.5 million in various cost reductions, according to Mr. Rioux.