ESCONDIDO – The Escondido City Council met on Wednesday, June 9 to hear an update on its Business Recovery Strategy and discuss the American Rescue Plan Act funding that the city will soon receive. The council also gave final approval to the 2021-22 operating budget and capital improvement budget.
The $117.6 million budget has increased by roughly $9.5 million compared with the 2020-21 budget and includes a $2.7 million increase in the city’s police budget and a $2.1 million increase in the city’s public works department.
The budget calls for reinstating six positions in the police department, five officers and a dispatcher in the COPPS (Community Oriented Policing and Problem Solving) unit.
It also includes roughly $540,000 to increase traffic safety.
The budget also shows that the city faced a budget deficit of $8 million in FY 2021/22, recovered by the use of one-time funds, a $13 million deficit by FY 2023/24 and further deficits continuing over the next 15 years, according to the report.
The structural budget gap is expected to exceed $176 million over the next 18 years.
According to the staff report, Escondido has been allocated $38,808,509 as part of the American Rescue Plan Act. It is still unclear what exactly the city will be able to use these funds for, but more information will become available on July 16.
“It is projected that the General Fund will end the fiscal year with a net operating loss and will rely on the use of budgeted one-time funds of $6 million. As of this writing, City staff is recommending the use of ARPA funds for this purpose,” the staff report said. “Until revenue is increased on an ongoing and structural basis, such as through an increased sales tax measure, the city must continue to rely on short-term, one-time resources to continue operations and avoid drastic cuts to city services.”
The council also heard a report on the city’s Business Recovery Strategy, which was initially adopted in May 2020. The plan implemented temporary regulatory and non-regulatory measures such as permit extensions, off-site sale and delivery of alcohol and temporary signage relief to assist local businesses that had to alter their operations due to COVID-19 regulations.
City staff will return to the council at a future date to decide if and when these measures will be scaled back as the COVID-19 emergency comes to an end.
Councilwoman Consuelo Martinez suggested a future agenda item in which the council considers keeping these allowances through the end of 2022.
The council also adopted its Regional Transportation Improvement Program for 2021-22 through 2025-26.