Revenue for Burbank’s municipal government is projected at lower levels than previously anticipated, city staff members said this week, due mostly to underwhelming tax receipts during the pandemic. In a report to the City Council on Tuesday, interim financial services director Jennifer Becker said projections for this fiscal year’s sales tax revenue dropped nearly $2.45 million compared to the estimate given during the first-quarter update in October. Projections for revenue from the transient occupancy tax, also called a “hotel bed tax,” decreased by $2 million.
Federal and state officials said at a virtual town hall this week that economic recovery was at the forefront of their minds, but they often cautioned that they were dependent on federal dollars that may not be coming. The live-streamed meeting, moderated by former Burbank Mayor Marsha Ramos and which featured Congressman Adam Schiff, state Sen. Anthony Portantino and California Labor Secretary Julie Su, allowed residents to float questions to the representatives on topics ranging from testing to Azerbaijani aggression in Artsakh. A subject that dominated much of the conversation on Monday, however, was a recession caused by the deadly coronavirus. The California unemployment rate fell to an estimated 10.8% in September, the second consecutive month since March that the rate was lower than the 12.3% height of the Great Recession, according to the state’s Employment Development Department. There were more than 2 million workers in California who remained unemployed last month.
Federal and state officials said at a recent virtual town hall that economic recovery was at the forefront of their minds, but also cautioned that federal dollars were needed for the task. The livestreamed forum, which featured Congressman Adam Schiff, state Sen. Anthony Portantino and California Labor Secretary Julie Su, allowed residents to float questions to the officials on topics ranging from COVID-19 testing to Azerbaijani aggression. A subject that dominated much of the conversation on Monday, however, was the recession caused by a deadly coronavirus. The California unemployment rate fell to an estimated 10.8% in September, the second consecutive month since March that the rate was lower than the Great Recession peak of 12.3%, according to the state’s Employment Development Department.
Burbank’s budget is anticipating a dour economic outlook due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic that could force the city to continue its hiring freeze and cancel events. Municipal staff members approached the City Council with an update during its Tuesday meeting, explaining that the city expects to operate at a General Fund recurring deficit of nearly $11 million this fiscal year, followed by additional millions of dollars in deficits annually through the 2024-25 fiscal year. Without intervention, by the end of the 2021-22 fiscal year the General Fund balance will likely be in the negatives. For the current fiscal year, city staff members project a decrease in “recurring revenue” of about $18 million from the original projection of $177 million, due to drops in sales, property, parking and hotel taxes.
The Burbank City Council approved more than $850,000 in relief money for small businesses and low-income renters impacted by the coronavirus, acknowledging that the funds alone would not be enough to help everyone in need.
The council unanimously authorized the spending during its virtual meeting Tuesday, allocating nearly $440,000 for rental assistance and more than $414,104 to provide forgivable loans for small businesses. The programs are largely funded by Burbank’s portion of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, with unused federal Community Development Block Grant and county Measure H funds also contributing to the initiatives.
The small business assistance program launched with the money will help “microenterprise” entities, such as gig workers, contractors and those who are self-employed, by providing a forgivable loan of up to $5,000. Businesses with between two and 50 employees can receive up to $10,000 in forgivable loans, though they must have at least one low-income employee to be eligible.
The program aims to assist between 30 and 60 businesses, according to Marcos Gonzalez, the city’s housing development manager. When originally proposed, the aid would also have been available to businesses that applied for federal Small Business Administration loans.
However, the council decided to amend the program so that it would cover what was not provided by those loans up to $5,000 or $10,000, as some business owners have reported receiving only a fraction of what they applied for. Continue reading “City OKs Aid for Small Businesses, Renters Hurt by Pandemic”
The Burbank City Council approved a tentative budget this week that estimates a revenue loss of $15-$20 million during the next fiscal year of 2020-21 due to economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
The council heard eight different budget presentations on Tuesday during a virtual meeting that lasted nearly six hours, creeping past midnight. Though city officials emphasized that the extent of the COVID-19 pandemic’s financial impact on Burbank remains uncertain, they expressed confidence that the city’s prudent fiscal policies over the past several years have put it in a good position to withstand economic challenges. Continue reading “City Council Projects Steep Revenue Loss on Pandemic Recession”