The city of Calimesa is expected to have approximately $660,000 in excess revenue this coming fiscal year after the council approved Monday night a budget of about $6.3 million.

City Manager Bonnie Johnson gave the June 3 presentation and noted revenues of nearly $7 million are expected in the 2019-20 fiscal year. That, coupled with the $6.3 million budget, leaves an estimated $666,143 in excess revenue.

“Since you guys like this so much, let’s adopt something,” Mayor Bill Davis said before the unanimous vote.

He was referring to Mayor Pro Tem Linda Molina and Councilman Larry Smith who praised Johnson and the budget.

“In my notes, the last word I came with was outstanding,” Smith said after the presentation to Johnson. “I think I told you how much I appreciate this format because it is clear and there is no confusion in it. Of all the city budgets and county budgets I have looked at, this by far stands out as the best work I have seen … Thank you so much for touching all of the points we have discussed and giving us a document that makes it very, very neat.”

“I say ditto,” Molina said.

The general fund’s balance reserve offered more good news for Calimesa. It is projected at about $3,382,000 million, which is 54 percent of the proposed expenditures, Johnson said. The current general fund reserve policy is 10 percent.

“I will be coming back to council with the recommendation to increase the reserve policy,” Johnson said. “What I had brought forward previously was to consider a minimum of 20 percent and council could go less, go more, whatever it desires to do after it talks about it and sets some criteria for how that reserve will be maintained and how it can be used. Again, that will be a discussion at a future meeting.”

In Calimesa, property taxes bring in the most revenue, comprising 41 percent of the general fund, while sales tax and intergovernmental sources, such as vehicle license fees, account for 13 and 14 percent, respectively. Those three sources total more than two-thirds of Calimesa’s revenue.

Meanwhile, the biggest expenditures in the general fund budget are fire and police services at 31 and 30 percent, respectively. Planning, building and safety, and code enforcement comprise the next biggest expense at 9 percent.

“You kind of get a feel for where we are and what is generating the revenue,” Johnson said about the charts provided that outlined the budget.

Budget highlights include a 3 percent cost-of-living increase for all city employees, excluding the fire department staff, which will see its own salary adjustments, and the additions of a part-time administrative assistant dedicated to the fire department and a full-time associate planner.

“It’s become very clear, with the volume that we have, not only from the development activity, but activity with the fire department, that we need to establish a position that is dedicated to fire,” Johnson said. The fire department currently uses interns from Crafton Hills College for its administrative work or city hall staff fills in.

The associated planner is currently a contract position.

“With the kind of activity we have in Calimesa right now, it is better if we have all of those people in-house and they can be here … working on those projects,” Johnson said, referring to the Summerwind Trails and Mesa Verde residential developments and the Marketplace at Calimesa shopping center, among others.

The biggest budget concerns seem to stem from prioritizing projects, especially when it comes to the capital improvement program.

“There are five projects that we have at the top of our list, and I would just say, it is hard to prioritize them because they are all equally important for different reasons,” Johnson said before giving a brief rundown on each one – the County Line Road/ Calimesa Boulevard intersection, Calimesa Creek storm drain improvements, the Cherry Valley Boulevard Interchange, paving projects throughout the city and the Singleton Road Interchange.

She noted there were many other topics brought up during the budget workshop the week before, everything from technology upgrades to beautification and aesthetics, to the vision for downtown Calimesa.

“All of that is very, very important and needs to be addressed and prioritized,” Johnson said.

Toward that end, Johnson recommended holding a goal-setting workshop similar to what the Calimesa City Council did 10 years ago. She provided a proposal from HR Dynamics and Performance Management to facilitate the session for $14,000.

“The public would be here, the council, all of your staff and it would be facilitated. We would move through different exercises and different things to get all of the ideas out in the open and try to find common areas and prioritize,” Johnson said about the workshop.

“I would recommend it,” Mayor Davis said. “The goal-setting (workshop) that we had years ago, was very productive. It was a way to get input from the community and everybody.”

Smith also wanted to see a goal-setting session, pointing out, that besides Davis, the other council members are in their first term of office in Calimesa.

“Mr. Mayor, I am really thankful that you are encouraging us to move this forward because we are all fresh faces from 10 years ago,” Smith said. “You were here and you still believe there was value in that. The four of us have not been through that process here. I think it’s extremely valuable. Thank you for supporting this.”

The resolution for the budget was amended to include the goal-setting workshop, for which a date has yet to be determined.

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