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City Council Weighs in on FY 2021-23 Biennial Budget

May 27, 2021 9:00 AM

City Council Weighs in on FY 2021-23 Biennial Budget

Over the last two nights, the Santa Monica City Council held study sessions to review the City Manager’s Proposed FY 2021-23 Biennial Budget. City Council’s feedback aligned with the Council adopted priorities of a clean and safe community, addressing homelessness, and an equitable and inclusive economic recovery. This feedback will be incorporated into the Final Biennial Budget, which will return to Council for adoption on June 22.

The FY 2021-23 Biennial Budget comes on the heels of pandemic-induced revenue losses of tens of millions of dollars that required a restructuring of the City organization, including the loss of over 400 staff members. The FY 2021-23 Biennial Budget reflects no deficit – either now or in the associated five-year forecast and the City retains its rare AAA bond rating from all three national credit rating agencies. This strong fiscal health is attributable to the painful, but necessary budget actions taken in spring 2020.

This budget continues to reflect prudent financial management with restrained enhancements focused on safe re-opening of in-person public services and improving customer service. The FY 2021-22 General Fund budget is $349.5 million; by way of comparison, the pre-pandemic FY 2018-19 General Fund adopted budget was $440.2 million. Council comments expressed support for programs and services in the proposed budget including:

  • Returning street sweeping to a weekly frequency.
  • Increasing resources to address homelessness, including launching a Community Response Unit (CRU) to support homeless outreach within the Fire Department, continuing multi-disciplinary street teams, and adding a staff member in the Human Services Division to support homelessness efforts.
  • Funds to maintain the Reed Park Ambassador program through Downtown Santa Monica, Inc.
  • One park planner for a limited two-year period to support existing and new park spaces.
  • Increased Library resources, including a Library Program Specialist – Youth and Family Services specialists.

Councilmembers also seek ways for staff to find a path forward for:

  • One-time funds to upgrade a generator to facilitate the return of Downtown Santa Monica’s seasonal ice rink.
  • Bringing back the Trades Intern Program through a new model where interns are embedded in enterprise-funded work units.
  • Additional enhancements to Library services.

Popular youth programming at Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District sites will continue, as the District will provide one-time funding to support a supervised after-school playground program for one year as permanent plans are considered and the District will oversee an elementary sports program in the Fall supported by seed funds from the City.

The Proposed Budget is available at finance.smgov.net.

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