The city of La Mesa passed its 2021-23 preliminary budget during Tuesday’s city council meeting.
Revenue coming from city funds in 2021-22 are projected at $96 million with $5.4 coming from American Rescue Plan act dollars along with $2.5 million in police grants, $5.6 million in Capital Improvement grants and additional funding from Community Development Block Grants specifically slated for park projects. Additionally, General Fund revenue for the year is projected to be around $52 million from property and sales taxes, cannabis revenue, and revenue from other agencies.
Revenues for all city funds in 2022-23 are currently projected at $78 million but will ultimately be higher when capital improvement project and grant funding sources are added in. Additionally, General Fund revenue for this 2022-23 is projected to be $54 million.
As in past years, the allocation of General Fund expenditures, including salaries remains constant with public safety making up about 61% of the expenditures in both 2021-22 and 2022-23. Three new positions will also pull from those funds: a Communications Manager to work across departments on community engagement efforts, a Senior Management Analyst in Human Resources and an Administrative Analyst in the finance department who would work on grant opportunities.
Additionally, four new positions in the police department will be fully funded by grant funding including two outreach workers in the newly created homeless outreach program, as well as one new police officer and one part-time code compliance officer to oversee cannabis education and safety compliance.
An additional expenditure will turn up in the form of a special election to fill the city council seat left open when Akilah Weber was elected to serve in the California Assembly. City Manager Greg Humora said officials hope to keep the cost of that election under $500,000.
Generally, Humora said the COVID-19 pandemic did not have “as significant an effect as initially feared” on city revenue and the budget did not look altogether different than in past years.
“The goals and directives are nearly identical to two years ago,” resident Demetrius Antuna said, and suggested allotting more funding to police training, homeless outreach and services for homeless residents like a regular bath and shower truck.
Resident Melissa Walter said that the budget looks similar to past budgets and she gets “the sense it is identical to what was happening previously,” with only 4% of the budget directed to community services.
She asked that more tax dollars be shifted to those services “so non-profits don’t have to do all the heavy lifting” with limited budgets.