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Carlsbad council approves budget

CARLSBAD — Council members approved a $250 million operating and capital improvement budget for the coming fiscal year at the June 29 meeting.
City staff presented the balanced budget for fiscal year 2010-2011, detailing very few changes expected in the coming year. The approved budget maintains many of Carlsbad’s current services and largely reflects the goals and priorities of City Council members.
“Our staff has done an excellent job this year in preparing this,” Councilman Matt Hall said, noting the ease with which the “most important meeting of the year” passed by.
Three-quarters of the $250 million represents the city’s operating budget, which is used to maintain public services including public safety, libraries and parks and recreation.
General fund revenues from hotels, sales and franchise taxes within Carlsbad largely supply the city’s operating budget. The projected revenues and expenditures for the general fund in the coming year predicts an estimated $1 million surplus.
“This is less than we’ve had in prior years, and is due to the economic condition that we are in currently,” said Judi Vincent, city budget manager.
Although the operating budget does include some assumed rate increases for water, sewer and trash, those specifics will be approved at a later public hearing in November.
Prices are expected to change due to the rising cost of imported water and an increase previously planned by Waste Management for trash removal. If approved, citizens can expect to see approximately $10 extra added to their monthly bill.
Mayor Pro Tem Ann Kulchin stressed that providers — not the city — are raising costs, and the rate increases are being passed through to citizens.
“I look forward to a more vigorous dialogue when those (rates) come back,” Hall said.
More than $60 million was approved for the city’s Capital Improvement Program budget. This covers many of Carlsbad’s large-scale construction projects to take place in the next year, including the relocation of Fire Station No. 3 and projects to improve traffic flow in the city.
City staff use a 10-year forecast to complete the budget each year. Due diligence has kept the city in the clear throughout the recession, but it hasn’t been without layoffs and budget cuts. Twenty-five staff positions have been phased out and spending cut when possible.
“Overall, $10 million has been reduced in the operating budget since 2007,” Vincent said.
City staff had reviewed the fiscal year 2010-2011 budget at two previous council meetings and a citizen’s workshop before presenting the final draft for approval June 29.