Newport Beach OKs next year’s $307-million budget


The Newport Beach City Council passed a roughly $307-million budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year Tuesday.

The $306.9-million overall budget includes $166.2 million toward salaries and benefits, $96 million toward maintenance and operations, $33.9 million toward capital outlay and improvements and $10.8 million toward debt service. The fiscal year starts July 1.

Councilwoman Diane Dixon, who also chairs the city finance committee, said the group, which is a mix of council members and citizens, engaged in rigorous debate while helping craft the budget.

“I believe that the community can take great pride in this fiscally responsible, forward-looking budget and the committee’s overall work effort,” she said.

The spending plan puts an additional $9.1 million toward paying down Newport’s unfunded pension liability and a $6 million infusion into the harbor and beaches capital fund, its largest boost yet for infrastructure projects along the water. The harbor and beaches boost comes from surplus funds.

Harbor operation costs will also look different than in previous years. The overall $2.4 million for staff and programming reallocates money now that mooring management has moved in-house, but costs will see no net increase next year with the shift, said City Manager Dave Kiff. Mooring management was formerly a contracted service with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office Harbor Patrol.

Councilman Will O’Neill, who also sits on the finance committee, said the significant focus on areas like pensions and the harbor show the leadership of council members.

“The priorities that have been laid out by this council from the moment we were all elected, and even before then, they’re in this budget,” he said.

Kiff removed a suggested $35,000 allotment to the Balboa Island Museum and Historical Society to address a potential conflict of interest with Councilman Jeff Herdman, who sits on the historical society’s board of directors. The city has previously given the society funds for its operations.

Dixon said she is generally supportive of the historical society but thinks such funding of local nonprofits should be decided through the city’s separate grant application process done in the fall.

Contracts awarded

The council awarded two big-ticket construction and infrastructure contracts.

The Newport Heights neighborhood is getting refreshed alleys and new sidewalks.

The sidewalks, along 15th Street between Santa Ana and Irvine avenues and along Irvine Avenue and Cliff Drive, are intended to improve access for children walking to and from Newport Heights Elementary and Ensign Intermediate schools.

The $4-million package includes a $3.385-million contract for Garden Grove-based Nobest Inc. The balance is for contingency, engineering, geotechnical services and incidentals.

The project is expected to be completed before the next school year.

The fire station at Irvine Avenue and Dover Drive will get a new apparatus bay – or fire truck garage – to accommodate larger modern equipment.

Fire Station No. 6 was built in 1957 and has a garage door with a 9-foot, 3-inch clearance. The newest truck is about 4 inches too tall for that door, and is parked under a tent when it’s at the station.

The $1.1-million package includes a $978,000 construction contract for Newport Beach-based Metro Builders and Engineers Group Ltd. The balance is for contingency, geotechnical services, inspections and incidentals.

The replacement bay will be a standalone building. When it’s time to replace the office and living quarters side of the station, that side can attach to the new bay, according to a staff report.

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