The financial footing in San Bruno continues getting better, due primarily to continued growth in key sources of revenue such as property and sales taxes, according to the city’s most recent annual financial report.
The San Bruno City Council unanimously approved the comprehensive report for the budget window which closed last June, and Mayor Rico Medina lauded the city’s improved fiscal standing.
“We are doing well in the sense that we are a really well-managed city,” said Medina, while noting officials must continue keeping an eye to growing future financial obligations in coming years.
The city drew in $10 million in property taxes last year, a $500,000 increase from the year prior and $8.8 million in sales taxes, up about $400,00 from the 2015-16 fiscal year, according to the report.
The two tax revenue streams stand as the city’s largest, followed by $4.3 million in car license fees, which grew by $300,000 from the previous year and $3.3 million in hotel tax revenue, which was flat over the year. San Bruno also received $1.8 million in card room fees from Artichoke Joe’s, making it one of the few city’s on the Peninsula to benefit from legal gambling.
In all, total revenue grew from $46 million the year prior to $51.7 million. Expenses bumped up over the same period of time by $3.5 million to $49.1 million, and the city’s overall net position grew by $9 million from the year prior to $112.6 million.
The city also met the reserve policy approved in 2013 ensuring a general fund reserve of $1.5 million is maintained at all times.
“We are in a healthy, strong, financial status,” said Medina.
He added though officials must be mindful of the city’s growing pension and retirement obligations, with an opportunity to pay down some of the debt through the increased revenue collected.
“It doesn’t hurt you today, but in long-term planning, it will catch up to you,” said Medina, of the city’s debt liability.
The city’s net pension liability balance sits at $39.4 million, as of June 2016, according to the report.
Regarding future spending plans, Medina said the city must also ramp up spending on its cable network, as officials eye adding fiber optic accessibility for the internet and cable service it operates for residents.
YouTube continues to be the largest source of property tax revenue in San Bruno, as the video streaming titan’s parent company Google is recognized as the city’s principal tax payer, with an assessed land value of $289 million. The company is also the largest job source, employing 1,974 workers.
Walmart.com is the city’s second largest employer, offering 1,400 jobs. Skyline College is third with 611 workers and Artichoke Joe’s is fourth with 411 jobs. The city’s top 10 employers offer 5,665 jobs of the city’s labor force of 26,700.
San Bruno’s unemployment rate shrunk from 3.3 percent last year down to 2.9 percent, which is the lowest it has been in five years. The joblessness figures are half what they were in 2013.
While the city’s economy has continued to thrive like many across the Peninsula, the report assumes San Bruno will reap greater financial reward over the coming years.
“Local economic indicators continue showing an increasing housing values and sales activity in the city and across the region. The city projects that regional economic growth will continue at a moderate pace over the next several years. … Job growth has led to rising home prices and a significant increase in commercial and residential development activity,” according to the report.
Echoing a similar perspective regarding the economic boom sweeping across the area, Medina said San Bruno is thriving in a fashion similar to its San Mateo County neighbors.
“We are still doing good — as I think most cities are,” he said.
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