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Newport Beach approves $309.1-million operating budget for 2021-22 fiscal year

Voters wait in line to cast their ballots on Election Day 2020.
Voters practice social distancing as they wait in line to cast their ballots on Election Day 2020 at Newport Beach Civic Center on Tuesday. The city approved in June a $309.1-million budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

The city of Newport Beach recently approved its $309.1-million budget for the upcoming fiscal year, set to begin July 1.

Members of the City Council got a first look at the proposed budget at a study session on May 25, and all proposed revisions were wrapped into the budget presented on June 8. The $309.1 million accounts for City Manager Grace Leung’s operating budget for the city. The capital improvement program budget is $35.5 million.

Last year’s budget was about $219 million.

About $195.9 million in capital spending over the next six years will be earmarked for projects like street and roadway maintenance, beach improvements and storm drains. Current budget proposals are projected based off of the assumption that some resources will improve over the next year, albeit not to pre-pandemic levels.

A staff report prepared for last Tuesday’s meeting said the city’s most impacted revenue sources — sales tax and the transient occupancy tax, also known as the hotel tax — were coming in higher than predicted at the time of the budget drafting.

City officials said on Thursday that the budget for the upcoming year restores $15.4 million that had been initially cut from facilities, harbor and neighborhood enhancement projects in the last year. In response to the predicted economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city made cutbacks to balance the 2020-21 budget.

Reserves currently sit at about $55.3 million.

The issue of how to finance additional sidewalk washing and trash collection in parts of Newport Beach entered into the discussion, as did the proposed addition of a lifeguard or more signage at the Newport Island bridge near 38th Street from which youths jump into the water below, despite the fact that the activity is against regulations.

City staff said they would look into potentially using CERT-certified volunteers to maintain a lifeguard presence at the bridge and that in regards to trash collection, some efforts by the public works department are already underway, such as the acquisition of more trash cans.

“Despite the extraordinary setbacks experienced in 2020, our city’s government ensured that services people expected remained in our budget,” Councilman Will O’Neill, chair of the city’s finance committee, said in a statement.

“Not all cities can say the same,” he added. “This budget continues to provide a high level of services to our residents and lays a foundation that will facilitate a great city for our children and grandchildren.”

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