Members review changes for fiscal year 2021
The Santa Barbara City Council held a virtual online hearing Monday evening to discuss changes to the fiscal year 2021 recommended budget and reductions to it in the wake of COVID-19.
As the News-Press reported, citywide revenue losses for the FY 2021 amount to $24 million.
This will, among other things, lead to a reduction of the general fund capital budget by half, the revised funding now at $400,000 as opposed to the initial $800,000.
Though some capital projects are recommended to receive the amount of funding originally intended, Santa Barbara Public Works director Rebecca Bjork stated that there are some major capital projects not recommended for any funding in the revised budget.
These include renovating the lower level workplace of the Central Library, renovating the Central Library’s plaza and the construction of a new police station.
Amid the protests against police brutality and nationwide calls for police departments to be defunded in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, the construction of a new police station was a common topic brought up by residents during the public comment section. Most public commenters were against the idea of building a new police station. District 3 council member Oscar Gutierrez said that while he recognizes the need for a new police station, he favors delaying its construction due to current societal conditions.
“They do need a police station … There are justifiable causes for why they need it, but right now with what happened with the recession due to the pandemic and what’s going on socially, I just feel like we need to reexamine whether the proposed building is exactly what we need, and I feel it’s just time to reexamine the situation,” he said.
As for ADA-related capital projects, Ms. Bjork said that the annually funded ADA transition plan will be paid for in full using funds from Measure C.
City administrator Paul Casey recommended a reorganization of city departments, which will involve the creation of new departments. Human Resources and Information Technology formerly operated under an administrative services director, a position that has now been eliminated. Under the revised FY 2021 budget, Human Resources and Information Technology would be their own individual departments.
Mr. Casey remarked that the latter is necessary for an organization as big as the city of Santa Barbara.
“For an organization of our complexity and size, a year ago we were recognizing that we need to have a more robust information technology department,” he said.
The City Council will vote on the revised budget during its regular meeting on June 23.