Escondido adopts balanced budget that makes small cut to arts center

The Escondido City Council has unanimously approved a balanced budget for the fiscal year starting July 1, after squabbles for nearly two months to close a $ 8.5 million shortfall in the city’s initial spending plan.

Council member Consuelo Martinez said ahead of Wednesday’s 5-0 vote that changes to the budget made in recent weeks had resulted in an improved spending plan. “This was the most powerful budget discussion we have had since I was on the council,” she said.

Instead of making deep cuts in city programs and services to balance the operating budget – which now stands at $ 125.7 million for fiscal year 2022-2023 – city officials raised their revenue and sales revenue forecasts. property with $ 1.4 million and relied on a $ 3.7 million infusion of U.S. funds from the U.S. Rescue Plan Act to cover most of the shortfall, along with more modest cuts.

A major change was a decision not to cut up to $ 1.9 million from the city’s annual subsidy for the California Arts Center, Escondido, which is owned by the city and operated by a nonprofit foundation. The biggest cut was considered earlier during the budget discussions.

Since 2012, the city has subsidized the center’s budget with an annual amount between $ 1.2 million and $ 2.5 million. Foundation officials said the cut as originally proposed would have ruined the arts center’s finances.

In the final budget, the city reduced its annual management fee for the center by $ 133,000 for next year, returning $ 1.57 million to its total contribution, which includes utility costs, maintenance costs, and IT services. . The center’s annual budget is approximately $ 7 million and includes revenue from sources such as ticket sales, facility rental, memberships, and donations.

Arts center board chair Sara Matta told the council Wednesday it was much calmer than at a meeting two weeks ago when the potential $ 1.9 million cut was still on the table.

“We are not happy to receive a discount, but we believe this is a fair and reasonable solution at the moment and we promise to work with you in the coming months,” Matta said.

Funding at the current level allows the center to “continue its mission to bring people together to discover, create and celebrate the visual and performing arts,” she said.

Several members of the public submitted comments regarding the city budget discussions, including those who sought against cuts to the Tiny Tots pre-K program and childcare at the Don Anderson community building.

Asked by council members, city staff said cuts are not recommended for the Tiny Tots program. Concerns may have arisen over listing the program for possible cuts in an earlier version of the budget.

The challenge the city faces in balancing next year’s budget could be repeated in the coming years if the city does not find ways to increase revenue, a municipal staff report on the budget said.

“Until revenues increase on an ongoing and structural basis, the city must continue to rely on short-term, one-time resources to continue operations and avoid drastic cuts in city services,” the report said.

Recent budget forecasts provided by city staff show gaps between $ 3 million and $ 12 million over the next 16 years. This is due to the rising cost of city services outpacing revenue growth.

Among the options being considered to bring in extra revenue is an increase in sales tax of up to one cent to pay for ongoing city services. A four-vote majority from the city council would be needed to put the issue before Escondido voters in November, when a simple majority would be needed for the passage. A similar move in 2020 failed to garner enough city council votes to be placed on the ballot.

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Escondido adopts balanced budget that makes small cut to arts center Source link Escondido adopts balanced budget that makes small cut to arts center

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