Lancaster budget

Lancaster Finance Director George Harris (right) discusses the proposed fiscal year 2021-22 budget as City Manager Jason Caudle looks on at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

LANCASTER — The City focused on technology improvements, innovation and resilience for its proposed fiscal year 2021-22 budget.

Lancaster will look at new ways to do things through new technologies, investing in those technologies and then implementing them. The innovation component will see the City look at doing things differently and implementing them to effectuate greater change and efficiency while maintaining a level of service that is necessary to the public. The resilience component will be to ensure Lancaster can weather financial downturns, City Manager Jason Caudle said during a presentation at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

“This budget is going to be our first budget year out of COVID, and we’ve gone into this budget with that assumption in mind,” Caudle said.

The proposed budget will see an estimated total $244.2 million in revenue and $180.3 million in expenditures. There are about $74.9 million in proposed capital improvements. The city’s projected general fund revenues are $91.2 million with an estimated $88.8 million in expenditures.

Lancaster is projected to have an estimated $32 million in reserves at the close of the 2021-22 fiscal year, Finance Director George Harris said.

The city has an estimated 35% general fund reserve, more than three times the current 10% minimum reserve policy with a target 16%. Harris recommended the City Council update the policy to 35%, and provide direction on how those reserves are to be used.

Harris recommended the 35% be divided in four layers, with 10% covering working capital, a 15% rainy day or emergency operating reserves, a 5% emergency response reserve and 5% for business opportunity reserves.

The proposal also includes establishing internal service fund reserves for expenses such as general liability and fleet maintenance, and an enterprise fund reserve for Lancaster Choice Energy.

Harris also covered the priorities set by the Measure LC Citizens Oversight Committee covering life safety, public safety, and quality of life, and sound fiscal foundation/support. The three-quarter cent tax increase approved by local voters in November is estimated to bring in $13.7 million.

The committee at its June 2 meeting recommended the City Council approve an estimated $5.2 million for parks, art, recreation and community service, or PARCS, programs and events.

Assistant City Manager Trolis Niebla covered capital improvement projects he said aligns well with the Measure LC Oversight Committee priorities.

“When we’re programing our projects we really focus on quality of life, state of good repair, life safety and economic development,” Niebla said.

The Council will consider the proposed budget for approval at its June 22 meeting.

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