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Santa Barbara budget challenges lead to changes in funding for parking division and downtown maintenance

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – It is still to be determined how Santa Barbara is going to fix an estimated $7.1 million deficit, but straightening out the slumping parking division operating costs will be one of the key steps.

That is an "enterprise fund" and set up to live within its own budget based on parking revenues. Those are falling short and there are more looming costs ahead for parking equipment and essential needs such as parking lot repairs. If it runs out of money, the main city budget will be used. That will make the current budget situation even worse.

The Santa Barbara City Council is set to approve its next budget with changes that will be in motion into the next fiscal year starting July 1.

They include reverting the Downtown Parking budget into the base budget and shuffling funds for key services. The city report said there will be a transfer of $200,000 from  Sustainability and Resilience, Clean Communities to support cleaning and other maintenance  in the downtown corridor. Currently that is paid for by the parking department.

Reclassifying the Downtown Parking Enterprise Fund into the General Fund was a suggestion of Councilmember Kristen Sneddon.

There will also be additional uses from the Measure C tax in Santa Barbara, authorize for projects such as street paving, new sidewalks and future projects including a new police headquarters. Those funds could also be used to fill budget holes, depending on the specific projects.

The council gave the staff some new directions at the June 4 meeting. Some of the adjustments will be made as more analysis takes place.   

Two sources of funds, the sales tax and the transient occupancy tax (or hotel be tax) are not expected to increase high enough to be a full solution to the current budget concerns.

Voters will have a chance to decide on a proposed half cent sales tax in November when it is before them on the ballot. That could raise $15.6 million annually to help with the current and projected rising costs. They include police, fire and other first responder needs, parks and recreation and library services.

The council meets this afternoon to finalize the budget with new financial adjustments and recommendations.

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County
Santa Barbara

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3-12. To learn more about John, click here.


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