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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