Santa Ana Adopts Two Year Budget; City Back from the Brink?


Hat tip to the Voice of OC for this story on the City of Santa Ana adopting a new two year budget and reporting a significant reserve fund that is a far cry from the bleak days on 2011 and 2012.

From the story:

This year, thanks in large part to the decision to outsource the city’s fire protection, the city is working with a reserve of between $27 and $30 million. City officials held nine meetings and two community forums before passing the budget.

Interim City Manager Kevin O’Rourke, however, called the spending plan “fragile” with very little room to maneuver. “As an outsider looking at this, this is a lean, mean machine,” O’Rourke said.

At O’Rourke’s suggestion, the City Council approved a two-year budget cycle, with the planned budget for the 2014-2015 fiscal year set at $204.5 million. A second reading of the budget approval ordinance is scheduled for June 17.

Revenue is expected to rise during the next fiscal year as the economy continues. Increases are predicted to rise by 2 to 3 percent in the largest tax revenue sources, such as sales, business and property taxes.

This is a far cry from just last year when rumors of Bankruptcy were flying all through the county.  The city still spends an unusually high percentage on public safety compared with other cities in Orange County and the crime rate when up slightly last year.  When it comes to credit, you can spread it around.  Paul Walters moved the fire department function over to the county, the new council majority has become more aggressive on changing the culture of government in Santa Ana, and Mayor Pulido, who no longer has a stranglehold of control on the council but has voted with the majority on policy issues that lead to good governance.  There’s still room for improvement — lots of it actually — but one gets the sense that Santa Ana is headed in the right direction.

We’d be remiss not to point out that the more caustic forces in the city are out of power.  Former Mayor Pro Tem Claudia Alvarez is gone from city politics and declawed on the Rancho Board.  Ex-councilman Carlos Bustamante is out of power and out of politics and will soon face a jury of his peers for his alleged actions as a County of Orange Middle Manager.  How much energy and city resources were taken up having to deal with the antics of both councilmembers?  Now that these two of off the council, the council seems more inclined to deal directly with the problems the city is facing.

The city leaders need to ferret out inefficient and ineffective processes and people still associated with city government.  But the new council majority is certainly moving the city forward.