The Coast News Group
Cities Community San Marcos

San Marcos City Council approves 2020-21 budget

SAN MARCOS — The San Marcos City Council met on June 23 to approve its fiscal year 2020-21 budget and capital improvements budget for 2020-21 through 2024-25.

The council approved using up to $2.6 million from the general fund reserve to balance the budget in accordance with the council’s adopted and amended General Fund Reserve Policy.

In fiscal year 2019-20, the COVID-19 outbreak resulted in a projected deficit of $6.3 million, according to the staff report.

“There’s no doubt that we are going to have some difficult days ahead … we will get through this. I want the citizens to know that the quality of life and your safety have been the top priority and they always have been,” San Marcos Mayor Rebecca Jones said during the council meeting.

Law enforcement accounts for 29% of the budget, or roughly $22 million, which City Manager Jack Griffin pointed out is the lowest per capita cost of any city in the county as San Marcos contracts with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department for law enforcement services and does not have its own police department.

The city projects an increase of 4.7%, or roughly $970,000, of higher law enforcement costs compared to the fiscal year 2019-20 budget. Some of that increase is offset by cost sharing of one School Resource Officer (SRO) with the San Marcos Unified School District (SMUSD) and an additional SRO being entirely paid for by a grant secured by SMUSD.

With this projected increase in law enforcement costs, the City’s per capita police costs are $223 compared with the average per capita costs of approximately $295 that cities with their own police departments face, according to the staff report.

Amid nationwide “defund the police” campaigns that were recently ignited in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, cities across the U.S. have been pushed to consider lowering police budgets and reallocating funds to public service programs.

The San Marcos law enforcement budget has remained steady over the years, and despite one of the lowest law enforcement budgets in the county, the city has also had one of the lowest crime rates in the county and state for the past several years.

The council also discussed an environmental impact report and approved resolutions needed for a 192-unit condominium development on land south of East Barham Drive, east of Meyers Avenue.