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Del Mar set to pass 2-year balanced budget

DEL MAR — Despite revenue decreases and cost increases, staff presented City Council with a balanced budget for the next two fiscal years, which begin July 1. Council members are expected to adopt the budgets this month.
With a combination of spending cuts and revenue enhancements, the budgets are balanced for now, but they could lose about $400,000 in state takeaways as Sacramento tries to balance its budget. “We will deal with changing circumstances as they unfold,” City Manager Karen Brust stated in her report.
Across-the-board cost-cutting measures include leaving several vacant positions unfilled. Nonunion employees and those in management positions agreed to forgo salary increases. Travel costs for training were eliminated, and equipment purchases and maintenance were deferred.
Money from property, sales and transient occupancy taxes provide the primary source of revenue for the general fund. Although the latter two are expected to remain flat, property tax growth is anticipated. In fact, while most San Diego cities experienced a decrease in assessed property tax, Del Mar saw an increase of more than 4.5 percent last year.
Council approved several revenue-generating measures, including an increase in permit fees from $800 to $1,500 for nonresident use of Seagrove Park. According to the budget report, there is high demand for park use, but not from Del Mar residents.
From June through August, beach parking rates will go up from $2 to $3 per hour. The city will also be implementing a voluntary prepaid parking permit program. Participants will be allowed to park in metered spots. They can park in timed spaces for twice the posted limit.
Council will also be voting this month for a 1 percent raise in the transient occupancy tax. The city plans to issue a request for proposals to develop the City Hall property as a means to create long-term revenue and stimulate the ongoing downtown revitalization.
Council directed staff is look into a code amendment allowing the transient occupancy tax to apply to short-term rentals and condominium hotels. Such a move would require voter approval.
The list of must-do items includes retiring the Shores property debt, securing financing for a new beach safety center, completing the replacement of the 21st Street sewer pump station and continuing downtown revitalization efforts.