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City Council Sets Community Priorities Ahead of Biennial Budget Process

March 13, 2021 7:18 PM

City Council Sets Community Priorities Ahead of Biennial Budget Process

SANTA MONICA, Calif. – On March 13, the Santa Monica City Council held a special retreat session to set community priorities for the next two years to guide the biennial (2021 – 2023) budget adopted this June. The priorities were informed by perspectives from more than 3,000 community members and the City's values of accountability, equity, inclusion, innovation, resilience, safety, and stewardship. In a 4-3 vote, the City Council selected the following as the most important areas of focus as we mark one year of our lives in the pandemic:

  1. Addressing Homelessness: Prevent housed Santa Monicans from becoming homeless; address the behavioral health needs of vulnerable individuals; and advocate for regional capacity to address homelessness.
  2. Clean and Safe Santa Monica: Create an atmosphere marked by clean and safe public spaces and neighborhoods.
  3. Equitable and Inclusive Economic Recovery: Cultivate equitable and inclusive economic opportunity and recovery, including access for all community members to educational, employment, and economic resources and opportunities, and create a community where differences in life outcomes cannot be predicted by race, class, gender, disability or other identities.

“The City Council today chose to focus for the next two years on the two issues overwhelmingly favored in the unscientific survey of the public’s priorities, addressing homelessness and promoting clean and safe neighborhoods. But we also added as a priority the promotion of an equitable and just economic recovery in recognition of the challenges and historical inequities laid bare in the last horrific year,” said Mayor Sue Himmelrich. “We also will not falter in fulfilling our existing careful and ambitious plans as leaders in sustainability and affordable housing.” 

The meeting was held amidst positive signs that recovery is more eminent than ever. As of Monday, March 15, Los Angeles County will move into the next phase of reopening and recovery. Indoor dining will return, expanded fitness and entertainment opportunities will be available, and local schools will begin a phased return to in-person instruction. In a pivotal action, President Biden has committed to having vaccines available to every American adult by the end of May and, as of Thursday, he signed the American Rescue Plan, infusing $1.9 trillion of stimulus into the U.S. economy. This package includes $29.3 million for Santa Monica, which will stabilize the City’s budget after a year of deep revenue losses.

The priorities selected by Council will first inform an April 13 City Council meeting to allocate the American Rescue Plan stimulus within the allowable areas outlined in the bill and over a four year period. The aid will also allow GSH tax revenues to be restored to support affordable housing.

The FY 2021-23 budget book will be become available to the public on May 10 followed by a biennial budget study session on May 25, and finally, the budget adoption is set for June 22, 2021.

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