The city of Calimesa boasts a positive mid-year budget

Among the one-time expenditures in the city of Calimesa, are costs stemming from the October Sandalwood Fire.

The city of Calimesa received a positive mid-year budget report and councilmembers approved some recommended adjustments at the Monday night city council meeting.

“The review that we are undertaking at mid-year shows an increase in revenue projections in the general fund of just over $600,000,” said City Manager Bonnie Johnson, who presented the report at the Feb. 3 meeting. “That is a change of what we adopted in the original budget. There is also an increase in expenditures of $284,497.”

That leaves a net increase of $316,181 for the 2019-20 budget.

However, Johnson also reported at the meeting on the close out and audit of the 2018-19 fiscal budget, which was more good news for Calimesa.

“In general,” she said, “the 2018-19 audit reflects just over $1 million more in fund balance than was originally projected during the budget process.”

To be exact, the increase for 2018-19 is $1,045,857. The two amounts combined gives Calimesa a net increase of $1,362,038 in its general fund balance.

“Our audited fund balance was $3,816,482. That was $1,045,857 higher than what we had originally projected,” Johnson said about the 2018-19 budget. “That was mainly due to development activity on the revenue side and some savings in expenditures in various departments.”

She explained the city had originally budgeted for a surplus of $598,143.

“Together that brings us to $4,414,625,” she said. “When we add in the recommended mid-year adjustments we get up to $4,730,806.”

In October, the council adopted a general fund reserve policy of 5% for equipment replacement and a 30% general catastrophic, emergency, rainy-day fund.

“When 35% is applied to the expenditure number,” Johnson said, “that is $2,329,388 that is now designated in your reserve …That leaves an available fund balance of 36% or $2,401,418 in the general fund that is not designated at this point in time for any specific purpose.”

The adjustments for the 2019-20 fiscal year were called “routine” by Johnson, who cited property tax, sales tax and vehicle license fees among the reasons for the increase, with the biggest bump coming from building permits and other development related revenue for a total of $359,925.

“When you look around and see all of the activity we are having, this number has been very difficult to track,” Johnson said about why the revenue increase was more than expected.

She also explained that when it comes to budget matters, she usually takes a more conservative approach.

“There is just a lot of activity and I don’t ever want to over project what we think that activity is going to be because we don’t know the exact timing of things,” she said.

The increase in expenditures was broken down into $191,391 for one-time costs and $93,106 for ongoing ones.

Among the one-time expenditures are costs stemming from the Sandalwood Fire, Johnson said. The October fire tore through a mobile home park, leaving two people dead and destroying 76 homes.

Most of the extra expenses for the city were due to overtime for Calimesa firefighters, services from Cal Fire and running the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) for victims of the fire.

The ongoing adjustments include an increase in insurance premiums for workmen’s compensation, improved technology and phone service, adding an employee assistance program and a portion of the increase in Planning and Building and Safety.

Ongoing rates that are holding steady for the city include PERS retirement rates, which estimated to increase in 2020-21 by only .718% or approximately $30,000.

“I think we are probably in the minority,” Johnson said about the increase being less than 1%. “Everybody’s rates have been steadily going up.”

Council unanimously approved the resolution amending the 2019-20 budget and its adjustments.

“Thank you for the job you have done here,” Mayor Bill Davis said to Johnson.

The next city council meeting in Calimesa is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18, because of the Presidents Day holiday on Monday. Council meetings are held at the Norton Younglove Senior Center, 908 Park Ave. in Calimesa

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