Revenue is up for the city of Burlingame and officials think it would be wise to be careful about how the extras funds are spent.
The city’s annual audit revealed the city’s net position increased $13.1 million, or 7.4 percent, during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013. The city’s current total budget is $64.6 million. The largest positive budget variance was reported for the transient occupancy tax, or hotel tax, which totaled $18.2 million, up $2 million from the previous year. Property and sales tax revenues were up for a combined $1.4 million — as the economy continued its measured recovery from the 2009 downturn, according to a staff report.
Despite the fact the city has been floating ideas such as building a new parking structure in downtown, remodeling council chambers, renovating the recreation center and other plans, councilmembers seem firm in the idea that it’s best to save for now. Councilman Jerry Deal said it would be wise to plan for the inevitable next economic downturn.
“We need to save a good portion of that because we’re at economic upturn and we want to make sure we have the money in place during next economic downturn to cushion the blow,” Deal said.
Across the board, the city’s highest sales tax revenue came from automobile and transportation sales, such as car and gasoline sales, said Carol Augustine, the city’s finance director and treasurer. The city’s hotels are doing great, she said.
In the past, the city would throw all their new spending ideas onto a wall, literally, said Vice Mayor Terry Nagel but, with new City Manager Lisa Goldman, things are much more organized. Nagel also noted the city is building up its reserves for projects.
“We come up with overall goals and action plans now,” Nagel said. “We can’t buy big projects. We have to tuck away money for a long time [to fund them].”
The city plans on doing a yearly business planning meeting this Saturday, which helps the council prioritize programs and services for funding and to determine future goals for the community. The annual budget is prepared as an integrated part of this process to allocate funding for these programs and services for the upcoming fiscal year. It offers residents a chance to review priorities and, through public meetings during the budget review and adoption process, offer suggestions and input to the council on those priorities.
Also in agreement with Deal and Nagel was Councilman Ricardo Ortiz who would like the extra money to be saved for now.
“There are a lot of fun ideas,” he said. “But I would like to see it tucked away into a rainy-day fund.”
Additionally, $7.8 million came from governmental activities and $5.3 million came from business-type operations like utilities operations in 2012-13. Government revenue was up $5.7 million from the prior year due largely to increases in transient occupancy, property and sales taxes revenues, according to the report.
The council will host a 2014-15 goals setting meeting 9 a.m.-noon Saturday, Jan. 25 at the Burlingame Public Library, 490 Primrose Road in the Lane Community Room. There will be a public comment session during the last hour. If you are unable to attend, email firstname.lastname@example.org. The annual report can be found on the city’s website, burlingame.org.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 105