Irvine projects sales tax boost

Despite the recession, Irvine has managed to go years without increasing taxes, cutting public service and has maintained its reputation as one of the safest cities in the country, city staff report in the annual budget slated for approval Tuesday.

According to the proposed budget, Irvine is projecting about $46.6 million in sales tax revenue, a $6 million boost from the current fiscal year and equaling about a third of the city's overall revenue. The budget also projects about $42 million in property tax revenue, a segment not hit as hard as sales tax during the recent economic downturn.

Irvine is projecting a $136 million overall budget.

The city has cut $12 million from its budget over the last three years but has increased its police force by 20%, bringing crime to a 40-year low. A number of officers from neighboring Costa Mesa have sought transfers to Irvine since that city began its broad restructuring earlier this year, including cuts to the police department.

Irvine's proposed budget would use about $4.5 million of the city's contingency reserves, a reduction from $6.3 million thanks to better-than-expected revenue. The city's contingency reserve would settle at about $9 million, a noticeable drop from the $14 million needed in the current fiscal year.

Street quality in Irvine is already considered among the best in the county, a reputation it looks to continue by devoting nearly $10 million to street maintenance and new traffic signals.

The Council is also looking to approve the Orange County Great Park's $64.8 million budget, with slight adjustments to consulting fees.

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