South San Francisco officials stand ready to pass a budget limited by the economic damage associated with the pandemic but backed by a hefty reserve fund.
The South San Francisco City Council held a meeting on Tuesday, June 15,
With travel restrictions affecting the local tourism and hotel industries, officials expect a loss in annual income that will result in a slight deficit of about $ 2.5 million.
The gap between the proposed $ 112 million in spending and nearly $ 109.5 million in revenue can be made with a portion of the city’s $ 6.1 million in government pandemic aid or $ 56.8 million to be closed to the city’s reserves.
In terms of revenue, officials expect growth across the board in most major sources such as sales tax, which is expected to raise $ 19.4 million in the coming fiscal year, about $ 1 million more than last year.
Similarly, officials estimate the hotel tax will raise $ 7 million in the coming year, up $ 1.1 million from last year when travel bans nearly destroyed the local tourism industry. While growth is forecast, the total expected for the coming year is roughly half of what was received in the 2019-2020 budget year before the public health crisis.
“It shows the amazing impact COVID is having on our hotel and tourism industries,” said Finance Director Janet Salisbury.
South San Francisco expects property taxes to be around $ 41 million in the coming fiscal year, a slight decrease from $ 43 million last year.
Salisbury attributed the loss to the state’s contribution to vehicle registration fees, but noted that continued investment in the city’s biotech sector east of Highway 101 was a major source of income in South San Francisco.
In terms of savings, $ 24 million is held in general fund reserves, $ 20 million is held for capital projects, $ 5.5 million is held for pension obligations, and $ 6.7 million is unallocated.
The financial flexibility caused some council members to look for opportunities for additional investment.
To that end, Vice Mayor Mark Nagales questioned the city’s schedule for hiring an equity officer, which is a proposal from the Racial and Social Justice Subcommittee.
City manager Mike Futrell said two candidates are being hired for the year as consultants and could be permanent next year. However, he said officials were reluctant to hire new full-time workers until the local economy fully recovered from the pandemic.
Nagales, for his part, said he was satisfied with the proposal as long as there was an obligation to recruit the Equity Officer.
“I think it is important to continue the work that the Commission has started,” he said.
Nagales also asked if officials could find extra space in the budget to provide a grant to the Chamber of Commerce.
Nagales noted that chamber staff hours were reduced due to financial difficulties following the pandemic and reached a consensus with his colleagues to help the organization support local businesses.
Officials agreed, suggesting that a grant of roughly $ 10,000-15,000, similar to the amount given to local small businesses during the pandemic, would be appropriate.
“I think if they are asking for help and have been part of our arm to help small businesses in our community, I think it is our responsibility to help them as best we can,” he said.