ESCONDIDO – The Escondido City Council met on Wednesday, Feb. 3 and heard a Second Quarter Financial Report for the fiscal year 2020/21, which still projects an $8 million budget deficit for the city in FY 2021/2022.
The city did, however, receive positive sales tax results this quarter meaning that sales tax revenue may return to previous levels by FY 2021/22.
Operating revenue has exceeded the amount that was estimated to be received through this second quarter by about $1.7 million. The amount of actual sales tax revenue received has also increased by $1.9 million compared to the prior year’s receipts.
Sales tax, property tax and revenues from current development, which includes building permits, planning fees, building department fees and engineering fees have all increased from the prior year.
“Escondido is fortunate to have a comprehensive mix of businesses and a diverse job base and is not heavily dependent on one of the hardest-hit sectors, such as hospitality and travel reliant businesses, for the majority of General Fund revenue,” said the staff report.
Despite these positive trends, the City of Escondido is still facing a projected $176 million structural budget deficit over the next 18 years.
The council approved budget adjustments to increase to the Fire Department operating budget of $1,025,520 and an increase to the Fleet Services budget of $52,000, reallocate $200,000 in Gas Tax funds to build four Welcome to Escondido monument signs, and two others.
The council also voted 4-1 to confirm the city’s acceptance of a grant to fund traffic safety programs such as DUI checkpoints in the amount of $515,000. Councilmember Martinez was the single “no” vote.
The council also discussed ways for the public to participate in and comment on virtual council meetings. Staff was asked to bring back options for the March 3 meeting.
Councilmembers then heard a presentation Escondido Disposal’s Inc.’s (EDI) expansion of the City of Escondido (“City”)’s green waste recycling program to include food waste.
In recent months, EDI launched an extensive public education campaign outlining state mandates requiring organics recycling, as well as the plans to meet the new requirements.
Those plans include establishing an edible food recovery program, community outreach, and providing organics collection to residents and businesses.
“I think this really sets the standard, raises the profile of our city about how we’re concerned about the environment and recycling and everything like that,” said Mayor Paul McNamara. “I think we’re going to change the culture of the city and that’s what we’re all about.”