After Late Adjustments, LCF Has a New Budget

City Manager Mark Alexander
Mark Alexander, City Manager

The city of La Cañada Flintridge’s spending plan for the next fiscal year was found at a recent special meeting to be about a quarter of a million dollars short, prompting city officials to find ways to make up the difference before the budget is formally adopted on July 16.
The City Council directed staff members to review the general fund operating budget again to see where an additional $246,225 could be identified to cover the costs of items approved on the council consideration items list, City Manager Mark Alexander said in an email on Tuesday.
Consider it done. Alexander laid out the steps the staff has taken to rectify the problem, and the budget essentially is set.
“This required going back and seeing where costs could be reduced or eliminated altogether as well as where revenues might be adjusted,” Alexander said.
The largest item to be reduced was an annual street resurfacing project that was cut by $50,000, Alexander said. The item was budgeted for $664,650 before it was trimmed.
“As the preliminary budget was already a conservative budget that was presented, it was not an easy task,” Alexander said. “If that hadn’t occurred, the City Council would have likely had to take the monies from reserves in order to cover the costs of the items they approved.”
Alexander said on Tuesday the total operating budget for fiscal year 2019-20, including all special funds, is $26,887,575.
The general fund is balanced at $15,759,550, including transfers of funds.
Total general fund expenditures are $15,759,550; in the preliminary budget they were $14,990,025.
General fund revenues now total $15,610,200, but were previously listed in the budget as $15,501,425.
Alexander said the $149,350 difference between the expenditures and revenues to balance the budget comes from the net operating “transfers in” versus the operating “transfers out.”
“In other words, reimbursements from the special funds to the general fund,” Alexander said.
Special funds are money received by the city to be used for a specific purpose, “typically for salaries,” Alexander noted.
The top 10 general fund operation revenue sources include property tax at No. 1 at $5,250,000, with $5,500 directly allocated to the sanitation fund for related expenses. The second-biggest source is sales tax, at $2,698,500, and third is in-lieu property tax, at $2,688,000. Fourth is building permits and plan check fees, at $2,025,700.
Personnel costs, presented at $4,566,125, included two-existing part-time positions — senior civil engineer and assistant engineer — that were turned into full-time salaried positions.
“The senior civil engineer and assistant engineer are two different-level positions, thus one is compensated higher than the other,” Alexander said. “The two positions’ total salaries are $157,450 and $122,625, respectively.”
The projected total of general fund reserves remains at $12,115,800.
At the Thursday special meeting, the council approved financial requests from community groups under the category of council consideration items. Many of the groups received what they requested.
The La Cañada Flintridge Coordinating Council received $1,000, while the One City, One Book Committee secured $2,500. The La Cañada Flintridge Sister Cities Association and the La Cañada High School Music Parents Association were each given $5,000. La Cañada Valley Beautiful obtained $12,000, and the La Cañada Flintridge Tournament of Roses Association $15,400. The Lanterman Historical Museum Foundation asked for and received $122,275.
The Community Center of La Cañada Flintridge initially asked for $85,000 but decreased that to $60,000 after eliminating a request for a ceramics studio, preschool shade structure and a bathroom cleaning. Its revised request was funded.
The La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce and Community Association saw its $122,650 request reduced to $90,975.
The Flintridge Guild of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and the USC-Verdugo Hills Hospital were both denied their requests, but for different reasons.
Officials told the guild to return and request a fee waiver for its Chocolate Race event. USC-VHH was to be told to consider partnering with the YMCA of the Foothills and the Community Center of LCF because they wanted to work with seniors, officials said. The hospital had sought funding for a resource center in line with that cause.
Thursday’s meeting was the last of three budget meetings to appropriate funds to be spent. The adoption of the budget on July 16 is considered a formality.
“I know how much work must go into this budget,” City Councilman Jonathan Curtis told the staff. “It’s very much noticed.”

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