City Anticipates a Budget Surplus

The city may close the books on the 1998-99 fiscal year with a substantial budget surplus.

June marked the end of the fiscal year, and the strength of the economy probably will result in revenues meeting or surpassing the budgeted $106 million. But city finance officials won’t know how large that surplus might be until a thorough review is done.

A number of factors are contributing to the city’s fiscal strength, including continued industrial, residential and commercial growth and accompanying one-time developer fees. Sales tax income continues to be the city’s biggest source of revenue, increasing 20% last year on the back of more than $2 billion in retail sales.

Surplus cash is put into a fund, which can be used for long-term uses, such as capital projects. Last year, the city had a general fund balance of about $29 million, of which $22 million was already designated for specific purposes, including a final payment for construction of the new city hall.

The remaining $7.04 million collected by the city was surplus. The city considered a number of options, including holding all of the money in a contingency reserve fund, expanding the library, building a lake at the Civic Arts Plaza, improvements at Los Robles Golf Course and purchasing open space.

A large portion of those funds has since been designated for various uses. The City Council this week earmarked $3 million to go toward a $10.2-million plan to rehabilitate the city-owned Los Robles Golf Course.