Council adopts budget, addresses capital improvements

The Claremont city council unanimously approved a report of the city’s 2016-18 budget during the June 14 meeting.

Finance Director Adam Pirrie presented a report that included a detailed layout of the city’s operating budget, plus a glimpse into future capital improvement projects. The report noted a general fund revenue increase of approximately $700,000 for the next two years from last year’s levels, totaling $24,798,296 for 2016-17 and $25,208,470 for 2017-18.

The increase, the report points out, is due to the future addition of retail space throughout the city, especially the opening of a new auto dealership scheduled this summer.

“We budgeted sales tax at current levels in the first year of the budget but in anticipation of the upcoming opening of the dealership, we’ve included a moderate increase in that second year,” Mr. Pirrie told the council.

The report shows $44.7 million in revenues and $50.6 million in expenditures for the 2016-17 fiscal year. For 2017-2018, the city projects $43.9 million in revenues with costs averaging about  $45.7 million.

Overall costs and expenses include the city’s general fund. In the 2016-2017 fiscal year, the city spent roughly $23.1 million from the general fund and expect  general fund expenses to slightly increase to $23.8 million in 2017-2018. The city pointed to rising CalPERS retirement rates among the reasons for the increase in costs over the next few years.

During the meeting, Claremont City Manager Tony Ramos praised the budget presented before the council.

“I am presenting to you a budget that is balanced, that is on time and that addresses current issues while keeping the future in mind,” Mr. Ramos said during the meeting.

Among the departments outlined in the report are the Police, Human Services and Community Development departments.

Also part of the presentation and packet was information on upcoming capital improvement projects for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 fiscal years.

Projects include phase one of the Foothill Boulevard Master Implementation Plan, which will allocate $4.3 million in Foothill relinquishment funds, money the city secured from Caltrans when it recovered Claremont’s portion of Foothill Boulevard. An additional $498,750 in capital projects grants was also captured to remodel and beautify Claremont’s stretch of Route 66.

Also on the docket for the next fiscal year are approximately $330,000 in turf renovation for the Claremont Pooch Park and $300,000 in Measure R funds for sidewalk rehabilitation projects throughout the city.

The council was impressed with the report and commended the speakers for stepping up and presenting their plans. Mayor Sam Pedroza praised the efforts of the volunteers in the city, especially within the Claremont Police Department and the Human Services Department. Mr. Pedroza noted that the Claremont PD had 175 volunteers and the Human Services Department had over 570 volunteers.

“We can’t put money on that, we can’t translate directly to money, but it definitely is the reason why we have that high level of service that the city is known for,” Mr. Pedroza said.

The budget was adopted with a unanimous 5-0 decision. The entire budget can be read on the city’ website.

The council also approved—by a 4-to-1 vote—the annual engineer’s report of the citywide Landscape and Lighting District, which maintains and operates the city’s landscaping and street lighting services.

The report, presented to the council by City Management Analyst Cari Dillman, placed the LLD maintenance costs at around $3.45 million for the next fiscal year, with a 2.4 percent (or $3.88) increase of the consumer price index (CPI) from $161.28 to $165.16 per parcel.

The CPI increase will add about $92,000 in total revenue, totaling $2,442,781. The rest of the costs will come from a general fund contribution of just over $1 million.

The bulk of the cost—around $1.2 million—will go towards the maintaining the city’s 21 parks over the next fiscal year, according to Ms. Dillman, while the cost to maintain median islands in the city will top off at around $905,344.

About $1.02 million of the budget will go toward tree maintenance, and around $333,000 will go toward maintaining the street lights, according to Ms. Dillman.

Mayor Sam Pedroza noted living in Claremont outweighs the nearly four dollar levy increase, and the rising cost “more than pays for itself” in terms of owning a home in the city.

“We want Claremont to be beautiful and pretty, but we got to pay for it,” he said.

Councilmember Corey Calaycay, the lone dissenting vote, lamented the way the program was initially passed in 1990, and noted that it was the impetus for him to enter into city government.

“I guess the best analogy I can offer is the upcoming transportation metro tax was pumped in the same ballot measure as the park tax that they’re proposing and approved by a simple majority of the voters,” he said. “That’s essentially what was done with this tax back in the day.”

The next city council meeting will take place on June 28.

—Matthew Bramlett

news@claremont-courier.com

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