The Santa Barbara City Council has agreed to move its budget to an interactive and user-friendly online document with the purchase of new software.
The council unanimously voted Tuesday to allocate $117,543 of general revenue funds for an annual software license and professional services with OpenGov, Inc., to move its binder-bound budget, totaling more than 630 pages, to an online format.
The online version will be a tool citizens can utilize to better understand Santa Barbara’s finances and engage in the budget process, said finance director Keith DeMartini.
And Santa Barbara will ultimately save money and staff time by moving to a digital format, Mr. DeMartini said. The digital budget is expected to be ready for the fiscal year 2023.
“It’s going to open up transparency. It’s going to make the budget more accessible for the public,” said Councilmember Eric Friedman.
The annual software will cost $81,283, and professional services will total $36,260, a one-time cost as the budget transitions, Mr. DeMartini said.
During its Tuesday meeting, the Santa Barbara City Council also unanimously approved a recommendation to replace a zoning regulation to allow for a community health center to be built at 3237 State St.
American Indian Health and Services is a nonprofit that is purchasing the land from the federal government. With the cost for the project estimated at more than $16 million, AIHS CEO Scott Black said the organization hoped to make this area its “permanent home.”
The ordinance specifically initiated a Specific Plan to replace the existing zoning designation to allow for the community benefit health clinic and other uses and designated the project as a Community Benefit Project. It also initiated a General Plan Amendment to change the land use designation to allow for five residential dwelling units per acre.
Councilmember Kristen Sneddon said putting a clinic at that high-traveled location is the “highest and best use for the particular location.”
“Looking forward to that corner being welcoming and really serving the community as opposed to being sort of the dead space that it is,” Ms. Sneddon said. “This facility is going to be serving some of the most vulnerable members of our community.”
She noted the facility would be located on a public transportation corridor and near the Peabody Charter School.
Representatives said it would be a 30% reduction in costs for them to relocate to the State Street location, savings Mr. Friedman said “would go into the services they’re providing to the public.”
AIHS has served as a healthcare provider in the Santa Barbara area since 1994, according to Mr. Black, serving about 7,000 individual patients since 2019. Most of the patients AIHS helps are at 200% of the federal poverty line or below, according to a presentation given to the council.