Officials: City Is Fiscally Fit

First published in the Dec. 11 print issue of the Glendale News Press.

It has been smooth sailing through at least the first quarter of the fiscal year, according to Glendale’s financial staff.
As of Sept. 30, the city had spent around 23.3% of its anticipated General Fund expenditures for the 2021-22 fiscal year, representing around $57.88 million of the projected $248.29 million for the year. In terms of General Fund revenues, the city had received 11.8%, or $27.33 million, of the projected $231.04 million for the year, a disparity expected thanks to the timing of property tax receipts, according to Deputy Finance Director Adrine Isayan.
The bulk of General Fund expenses is tied to salaries and benefits for city employees, with $45.78 million paid out through the first quarter; that number represents 23.5% of the anticipated salaries for the year, indicating that the city experienced staff vacancies. Maintenance and operations were the second largest expense, at $11.66 million, which was 22.5% of the projected yearly total.
Of revenues, sales tax (not including the Measure S sales tax) was the largest source at around $7.5 million, approximately 17% of the $44.06 million for the fiscal year. (Sales taxes are received on a delayed basis.) The city also brought in $5.18 million in utility users tax (19.9% of the year’s projection) and $3.7 million in charges for services (22.7%).
Glendale’s largest revenue source, property taxes, are typically paid in December and not distributed to cities until January, at the earliest. As a result, the city had only received around $799,000 — just 1.1% of the anticipated $73.18 million for the year — by the end of September.
This update was presented to the City Council this week, as part of a presentation that also highlighted the prior fiscal year in Glendale.
According to Shu-Jun Li, another of the city’s deputy finance directors, General Fund revenues for the 2020-21 fiscal year were $229.43 million, in excess of $9 million more than anticipated — meaning that it was 104.2% of anticipated income. This was contrasted by $228.83 million in expenditures, which came in at 96.1% of expectations.
Among revenues, property taxes ($71.74 million), sales taxes ($47.14 million) and utility users taxes ($26.11 million) all came in higher than expected. Additionally, revenue from other agencies, at $3.45 million, were at 125.3% of projections, likely thanks to pandemic-related grants and reimbursements from state and federal agencies. The bulk of expenditure savings were found in salaries and benefits, contractual service, and travel and training.
All in all, the city finished the prior year with a net loss of $2 million out of a total budget of $719 million in expenditures.
City Manager Roubik Golanian indicated that the city’s response to the coronavirus pandemic helped create this situation, which earned the coveted “unmodified opinion” from auditors.
“We initiated a hiring freeze at the start of the pandemic, and we have maintained that hiring freeze,” Golanian said. “We haven’t rushed to fill positions, and all the departments, despite all the vacancies that have culminated in these savings, have done a yeoman’s job in continuing to provide the services that they do.”