PALMDALE — As preparations begin for the city’s 2019-2020 bud­get, the City Council laid out its funding priorities for con­sid­eration by staff during that process.

Council members were sur­veyed recently and asked to rank a selection of 13 priorities laid out by staff. From those re­sults, a combination of the rank­ings col­lected, the top five were pre­sented during Tuesday’s Council meeting.

Top of this list is public safety and security, followed by economic de­vel­opment, completion of ex­ist­ing parks, parks safety and main­ten­ance of existing facilities, Assistant Finance Manager Keith Kang said.

“It’s giving us clear direction,” City Manager James Purtee said. “What this does … is gives my­self and the departments that are put­ting their budgets together a frame­work to work within with re­gards to where we need to allocate our resources, whether it’s staffing, ve­hicles or other resources, what do we need to do to meet these pri­orities and continue delivering on all the other priorities in the city.”

The list is similar to last year’s pri­orities, with public safety and sec­urity perennially a top priority not only for Palmdale, but for most cities, he said.

Completing existing parks also was addressed during the same meet­ing Tuesday night, as the Coun­cil agreed to an internal $5 mil­lion loan from General Fund re­serves in order to begin design and preparation work for four spec­ific parks and to bring back a parks committee to advise on parks projects citywide.

In prior years, the priorities inc­luded landscape maintenance and improving parks landscaping, items which were addressed by updating contracts for those ser­vices, Purtee said.

“If we’re going to step up our game on any of these pri­orities, there is a cost and a budgetary requirement associated with it,” he said. Knowing where the pri­orities lie helps the staff in making the necessary financial trade offs between these and other city needs.

The budget priorities out­line “gives a good chance for the council to get on the same page” at the start of the budget de­vel­op­ment process, Mayor Pro Tem Austin Bishop said Mon­day during a pre-meet­ing brief­ing.

The budget development proc­ess will proceed tow­ard the goal of adoption for the fis­cal year 2019-2020 budget by the end of June, when the cur­rent fis­cal year ends. This month and into March, city de­part­ment heads will re­view their budget pro­po­sals with Pur­tee, and the Coun­cil will be updated with tentative figures in April.

A budget workshop is sched­uled for May 7, with the ex­pec­tation the Council will be asked to adopt the final ver­sion at its regular meet­ing on June 4.

Mayor Steve Hofbauer re­quest­ed additional meet­ings with individual Coun­cil members and Purtee to go over the budget pro­po­sals in de­tail “so we can make sure we flesh that out before we get into bud­get hearings,” he said. This will allow Council mem­bers to see how their priorities are being ad­dressed, some of which may not be obvious at first.

“We need to open up each of those items and really dis­cuss what that means and how we’re going to ach­ieve that,” Bish­op said.

Councilwoman Laura Bet­ten­­court said the top two pri­or­ities on the list, pub­lic safety and economic de­vel­opment, really go hand-in-hand, as many bus­i­nesses looking a lo­ca­ting in Palmdale check the local crime statistics as part of making their de­cis­ion.

“Public safety is a huge pri­ority to help bring that economic development to our city,” she said.

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