The Santa Barbara City Council discussed its $166.2 million budget for the next fiscal year during a hearing on Wednesday night, determining what projects would receive city funding in the coming year.
This year’s budget is partially built upon increases in sales tax and Measure C tax revenue in the past six months. In addition, the city is slated to receive about $21.8 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding, which will account for a portion of $34.9 million in revenue the city lost during the pandemic.
“The city of Santa Barbara has revenue loss in excess of what ARPA is saving us from,” Finance Director Keith DeMartini said Wednesday, noting that there is about $13.2 million in revenue loss the ARPA funding will not cover.
While council members will cast their votes on the city’s final budget on June 22, officials on Wednesday voted on a range of projects to receive funding during the next fiscal year.
Within next year’s proposed budget, city council members unanimously voted to allocate $70,000 to fill a vacant bilingual administration support spot in the City Administrator’s Office.
Unanimous support was also voiced to allocate $11,000 for the implementation of a budget transparency tool in the City Finance Department, which would give council members insight on how external budget requests are acquired from the community.
During Wednesday’s meeting, officials discussed multiple requests from City Fire, ultimately approving two of the three proposed budget items. The council voted 6-1 to allocate $236,000 to the implementation of a Community Wildfire protection plan, and members unanimously voted to allocate an additional $10,000 to develop a “Ready, Set, Go” program. Council members shot down a request of $134,000 to fill an inspector position for fire prevention.
The council decided to allocate $17,500 to support a Child Care Study from the Human Resources Department, which will seek insight on childcare needs across the city.
Officials approved both budget requests from the Santa Barbara Public Library, granting $142,000 for a social services worker and $150,000 for an upper level needs assessment of the library and the eventual development of a teen resource center.
Unanimous support was also achieved for the funding of two summer programs. The city will allocate $5,000 to the Santa Barbara Police Department for the implementation of a summer program to support youth impacted by the Liberty Street shooting.
The council will also allocate $40,065 for a summer nights program championed by the Parks & Recreation Department.
A number of outside agencies also requested funding from the council, a few of which were granted during Wednesday’s meeting.
SB Act requested $50,000 for the expansion of homeless outreach services and $100,000 for the creation of Neighborhood Navigation Centers for emergency and first response services. Both requests were granted with a unanimous vote from officials.
In a split 4-3 vote, the council approved the allocation of $150,000 in funds to the Economic Development Partnership for the development of a business recruitment initiative.
The council also agreed to set aside $25,000 to match funds for state and federal grants for infrastructure improvements at the request of Commercial Fisherman of Santa Barbara.
During Wednesday’s meeting, the council also voted to create an ad hoc committee composed of Councilmembers Oscar Gutierrez and Kristen Sneddon to work with Healing Justice Santa Barbara to develop plans for the creation of a Black and African American Cultural Resource Center.
The council will meet again for its normal meeting at 2 p.m. Tuesday.