SANTA MONICA—On Tuesday, May 25 and Wednesday, 26, the Santa Monica City Council had review sessions to go over the City Manger’s proposed FY 2021-2023 budget. The feedback given was aligned with the council’s adopted priorities of a “clean and safe community.” Issues discussed included addressing homelessness in the city and inclusive economic recovery. On June 22, the city council will reconvene to incorporate the feedback in the Final Biennial Budget.
The Coronavirus pandemic brought in revenue losses of tens of millions of dollars that required the city to restructure its organization. In addition, it led to a loss of 400 staff members who worked for the city of Santa Monica. The budget reflects no deficit now or in the five-year forecast. The city retains its AAA bond rating from all three national credit rating agencies. Fiscal health is attributed to the budget actions made in the spring of 2020.
The budget reflects a focus on safe re-openings of in-person public services and improving public service. The pre-pandemic FY 2018-2019 General Fund adopted was $440.2 million. In contrast, the FY 2021-22 General Fund is $349.5 million. The council has expressed various support for different programs and services.
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.
It should be noted, that popular youth programming at the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District locations will continue. The school district is providing one-time funding to support supervised after-school programs for one year. Future plans will be considered later on. Seed funds from the city will support elementary sports in the fall. The Proposed Budget is available at finance.smgov.net.