Revenue jumps expected to help close deficit

Because of unexpected jumps in revenue from two important tax sources, Newport Beach officials expect to close their $2-million budget deficit for this fiscal year.

That's one of the highlights of the city's mid-year financial report, which the City Council will review during its regular meeting Tuesday night.

Newport started the 2010-11 fiscal year $2 million in the hole, but it appears that no immediate cuts will be needed to fill it.

The city manager's report predicts that revenue from transient occupancy tax — the amount charged visiting hotel guests — and sales tax will both exceed expectations.

The transient occupancy tax should finish the fiscal year ending June 30 at $12.5 million, which is 8% more than the budget originally forecast. The Resort at

Pelican Hill had the greatest improvement since this time last year, compared with other hotels, the report says.

Sales tax is expected to exceed expectations by the end of the fiscal year. Officials forecast sales-tax revenues to ring in at $18.3 million, which would be 5% greater than originally forecast.

Restaurants and department stores had the best gains compared with this point last year, while luxury auto dealers remain the largest source of sales-tax revenue.

The overall largest revenue source for the city — property tax — is only expected to marginally outperform the budget, as housing values remain weak.

The City Council will also address:

Banning Ranch: Developers are finalizing the Banning Ranch master plan, and city officials expect to have reviewed all of its components by March.

The 400-acre proposed mixed-use development with 1,375 housing units will also require an extensive development agreement with the city. That agreement would detail roads, sewers and other infrastructure developers would build.

Officials expect a draft of the development agreement in March. After that, the environmental impact report is scheduled for public release in April.

The City Council will be asked Tuesday to approve a $100,000 extension for its Banning Ranch traffic engineering contract.

Public meeting policy: Officials will consider reducing the amount of time some speakers have to address the council at meetings from five to three minutes, among other changes to the city's open-meeting laws.

As it stands, members of the public can speak at City Council meetings for five minutes, when they are speaking about items that are on the agenda. When speaking about subjects that are off the agenda, they're limited to three minutes.

The council, during a study session, will consider making the on-agenda limit to three minutes as well.

In that same meeting, the council members will review their own policies concerning "civility" at public meetings. After the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) in January, mayors nationwide adopted a set of principles aimed at diffusing the vicious political discourse.

Newport Council members will consider adopting a similar code of civility to show their respect for members of the public and each other.

Security for council members: Also inspired, in part, by the Tucson shootings, the Police Department will brief the City Council on what to do during an emergency. Police Chief Jay Johnson said there were no specific threats to council members, but that he wants to update them on security concerns and explain what they can expect from police. The security briefing will take place in closed-session before the regular meeting.

If You Go

What: City Council Meeting

Where: City Council Chambers at 3300 Newport Blvd.

When: Tuesday. Study Session 4 p.m., Regular Meeting 7 p.m.

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