According to the city of Santa Clarita, which had a budget study session on Wednesday, the top four goals for the city’s use of the general fund for the coming year are 19 recovery, city infrastructure, public safety, and state legislation. The city’s budget research session was held on Wednesday.
However, despite assertions that the city has recovered significantly since the pandemic, global and national trends imply that economic progress will be slower than previously projected, owing to ongoing COVID-19 concerns, as well as inflation and supply issues.
The unemployment rate in Santa Clarita is currently 5.2 percent, which is a reduction from the peak of 18 percent in 2020 but still higher than the 4.4 percent rate in 2019. The rate in 2019 was 4.4 percent.
While the pandemic was underway, City Manager Ken Striplin stated that the local economy had been strengthened by development, film, and tourism, and that preserving the COVID-19 recovery would be a major priority in allocating the city’s estimated $130.7 million in revenue for the following year.
One of the main topics discussed at the meeting was public safety, which the Santa Clarita City Council and Striplin claimed had been jeopardized by the recent policy directives of L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón, which had restricted the use of sentencing and bail enhancements for a variety of crimes and misdemeanors for the previous year.
Approximately $31.5 million is expected to be spent on public safety by the city in the coming year, making it the single largest expenditure from the general fund.
Although the city would like to expand patrols and deputies under the local law enforcement contract, Striplin noted that it would be impossible due to the way the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is dealing with its own money and staffing issues.
Public works, which will account for 14 percent of the overall $130.7 million in expenditures, and leisure and community services, which will account for 13 percent of the general budget, will be the next two most expensive categories.
The city will also need to evaluate how it will accomplish Gov. Gavin Newsom’s goal of building 3.5 million new homes in California by 2025, as well as the city’s own strategic plan for the year 2025, as well as other state and federal goals.
In an effort to fulfill the governor’s goal of 3.5 million new dwellings by 2025, “affordable housing has been a motivating force behind statewide initiatives that circumvent municipal zoning constraints,” Striplin added. Since 2010, affordable housing legislation has predominated in the Legislature, which has continued to trump local control. As with the previous tendency, this one is expected to continue in 2022, with significant ramifications for the density of Santa Clarita’s population and, eventually, for the quality of life there.
Striplin stated that the city will continue to adhere to its fundamental budget ideas, which include the belief that “decisions made in good times are more significant than decisions made in bad times,” the belief that “always live within your means,” and the belief that “spending conservatively but strategically” is important.