Friday, February 27, 2015

City sees positive midyear budget report

After the midpoint of each fiscal year, Yorba Linda Finance Director Dave Christian compiles a report outlining how closely the city's actual income and expenses match amounts anticipated at the beginning of the budget year, providing a glimpse into the state of the city's economy.

This time, Christian's report is mostly positive for the current fiscal year (July 1, 2014, - June 30, 2015), with higher-than-expected income from property taxes – the city's largest revenue source – and sales taxes, but less-than-expected income from building permits.

Overall, Christian, who also serves as city treasurer and assistant city manager, predicts the nearly $30 million operating budget will be balanced with a $550,000 surplus, even including the almost $1.5 million in City Council-approved expenses added since the prior fiscal year.

Property tax revenue is expected to jump more than $1 million over estimates “due mainly to the continuing strong recovery of the real estate market, as well as the redistribution of the former property tax increment as the result of redevelopment dissolution,” Christian stated.

Dollars once collected for the city's Redevelopment Agency, dissolved by state mandate in 2012, will add $400,000 to general fund coffers. The cash is part of increased property tax revenue from redevelopment zones that previously financed projects and a housing fund.

Although Christian last year lowered sales tax projections by $100,000 for 2014-15, he now sees “much better than expected results,” with income exceeding the estimate by $150,000.

A $520,000 drop in building permits and plan checks fees is due to timing, Christian noted, since “building activity has begun to pick up.” However, projects have been “delayed in the entitlement process,” with the revenue “most likely” to be realized in the next fiscal year.

Much of the increased income is offset by nearly $1.5 million in added expenses approved by the council in last year's midterm adjustment ($720,000), since the start of the current budget year ($247,000) and this month ($517,500, including $194,000 in raises for city workers).

Cost savings due to vacant positions total $590,000, including building department slots at $307,000 and savings and credits in the county Sheriff's Department contract for $283,000. (Temporary personnel costing $184,000 were added to the building department budget.)

The city has been operating on a two-year budget for 2013-14 and 2014-15. The council is expected to start examining finances for the 2015-16 fiscal year within the next few months.

Also, the City Council, as successor to the former Redevelopment Agency, plans to spend nearly $4.7 million of redevelopment tax increment the second half of this year, including some $3.3 million for Town Center and about $1.2 million for lower-cost housing, upon state approval

The city lists $112.7 million in outstanding debt or obligations from the dissolved agency.