After more than four months of deliberations, the Lompoc City Council on Tuesday night closed in on adoption of a city budget.
In a split vote, the governing body agreed to move forward with a 2017-19 biennial budget that bears little resemblance to the draft budget that was first proposed by City Manager Patrick Wiemiller on May 2. The latest version of the budget does not include any potential new tax measures, staff cuts or major reductions in city services. It was approved 3-2 with votes of support from Councilmen Jim Mosby, Dirk Starbuck and Victor Vega.
The approved budget, according to the city, will go into effect as soon as the resolution adopting the budget is signed by Mayor Bob Lingl.
Among the final tweaks made to the budget Tuesday night were the shifting of funds from some areas to others. Chief among those shifts was the $200,000 that had been set aside to cover anticipated costs associated with putting three new tax measures on the 2018 ballot.
Those tax measures — a utility users tax, transient occupancy tax and sales tax — faced opposition almost immediately from members of the council when Wiemiller first proposed them May 2. On Tuesday, the council officially killed off the idea of the new taxes by reallocating that $200,000, which had been set up to cover election filing fees, as well as the costs for consultants and community education.
Instead of going toward those tax measures, the funding, as suggested by Mosby in his motion to adopt the budget, will go to cover costs for the school crossing guards, park maintenance and other items that had been removed from many of the draft budgets presented by city staff.
Mayor Bob Lingl, who along with Councilwoman Jenelle Osborne voted against the budget that was approved Tuesday, said he believed the council was being “shortsighted” by redirecting that $200,000.
“This $200,000 is one-time money,” he said. “We’re going to get these things addressed for this year and next year, and we’re gonna be right back in the same spot as we are two years into the next budget (cycle).”
The budget that will be brought back for final approval includes many of the cost-cutting suggestions that were proposed by Mosby at the council’s Aug. 22 meeting.
Though not part of his motion for approval, Mosby recommended Tuesday that the council look at meeting with Lompoc Unified School District officials and representatives of other outside agencies to determine future funding levels. Several representatives of outside agencies that were at risk of losing their city funding addressed the council at various meetings this summer to express that they were caught off guard by the proposed cuts.
Starbuck also recommended that the council review the budget in March to assess how revenue streams are performing at that time.
“At that point, I think it would be very interesting to look at expenditures that we’re taking from our enterprises,” Starbuck said.
That could be critical since the budget is based in large part on an Enterprise Reimbursement Plan that still hasn’t been approved by the council. While Wiemiller noted Tuesday that the council is effectively approving the plan’s formula by approving the budget, he said that the council members could always go back and direct staff to make changes as they see fit.
The budget also includes a Capital Improvement Plan that the council is also able to alter or update as it wishes.
The initial budget deadline was June 30, but the council voted twice to extend that deadline, first until the end of August, and then, on Aug. 15, until the end of September.
The next regular meeting of the council is slated for Sept. 19.