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By Jorge Casuso
October 28, 2020 -- With City revenues "marginally better than anticipated," the City Council on Tuesday closed out the 2019-20 Fiscal Year budget by using $12 million less in reserves than expected.
The final changes approved to the budget that ended June 30 required using $30 million, instead of $42 million, in reserves to cover the shortfall caused by the coronavirus emergency declared in March.
Revenues increased slightly "due to the early phased reopening of the economy, some hotels remaining open, and fewer people than anticipated deferring taxes and other payments," City officials said in a statement following Tuesday's vote.
The budget for the current fiscal year, which started July 1, is $192.3 million less than the previous revised budget, representing a 23.9 percent cut, officials said.
Approved in May, the current budget slashed 299 permanent full-time positions and 122 full-time equivalent as-needed positions.
City finance officials project City revenues won't recover to pre-COVID-19 levels until the 2024-25 Fiscal Year.
“While economic instability persists for local governments, the City continues to make prudent financial decisions to ensure the long-term fiscal health of Santa Monica,” said Interim City Manager Lane Dilg.
The $1.14 million in federal funding is being used to "address critical service needs on a one-time basis," City officials said.
The funding will address the following community priorities:
The federal funding will also provide $50,000 to hire as-needed Library "pages" to help with curbside service and programming and $10,000 to buy a truck-mounted pressure washer to help clean pedestrian, playground and restroom areas.
In addition, $30,000 will be given to West Coast Care, a non-profit that helps reconnect homeless individuals in the beach and Pier areas with their families across the country, and provide service options, officials said.
The partnership with West Coast Care and the $400,000 for mental health services for the poor and homeless "are among the initial steps the City is taking to employ alternate approaches to emergency response that do not involve law enforcement personnel," City officials said.
The partnership "marks a shift" from the Police Department to the Fire Department, which will have a permanent presence on the beach in Fire Station 7, a successful pilot initiated last year.
The new department -- which includes the Big Blue Bus, the Mobility Division and Parking Operations -- will take shape in December 2020 and could be assisted by creating a Mobility Commission.
"Bringing Santa Monica’s exceptional Mobility and Big Blue Bus teams together will allow us to advance transformative green street projects and the kind of long-range planning essential to safe, car-light living and cutting carbon emissions,” said Dilg.
“There is a lot to be excited about with the expansion of the battery electric bus fleet, Vision Zero efforts, and protected bike lines coming in the next few years,” she said.
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