WeHo’s budget for next two years starts coming into focus

ADVERTISEMENT

West Hollywood’s mayor and vice mayor received a somewhat vague preview of the mid-year budget covering the next two fiscal years presented by City Manager David Wilson and city staff at a meeting Thursday evening.

Budget Officer Melissa Lindley elaborated on various budget components which include fund summaries, financial forecasts, and detailed accounts of departmental achievements and upcoming plans.  A critical policy under review was the city’s reserve fund policy, which at Mayor John Erickson’s request might see an increase from the existing mandate of maintaining at least a 25% reserve.

The budget’s composition was broken down, illustrating the pivotal role of the general fund, which constitutes 85% of total revenues, mainly derived from varied tax sources like property, sales, and hotel occupancy taxes.

The upcoming budget discussions are largely focused on the city’s major capital improvement projects, the highest priority of which are:

  • Holloway Interim Housing 
  • 8120 Santa Monica Blvd. Interim Parking Lot 
  • 8305 Santa Monica Blvd Tenant Improvements 
  • Log Cabin
  • Plummer Park Dog Park
  • AIDS Monument
  • Sewer Maintenance
  • Street & Sidewalk Maintenance
  • Design District Streetscape Improvements

Vice Mayor Chelsea Byers questioned whether city staff was up to the challenge of tackling so many within two years. 

ADVERTISEMENT

“The capital work plan, as I’ve been discussing with other cities in the last couple of weeks, is astounding and really exciting, and it sort of jealously inspires most other cities,” Byers said. “My concerns mostly lie in our capacity to ensure this happens. My questions mostly concern our staff capacity to carry these things through. I’m just sort of interested in interrogating or asking about the capacity in those spaces to see if we are confident we have what we need through the next two years to make that happen.”

Wilson recognized the challenges and said the city is working to address them.

“So, I’ll first start with financial capacity—that’s the easy one,” Wilson said. “The people part is a little harder. We are looking at issuing bonds for the purchase of some of these projects. Over the next few months, we will bring a reimbursement item to the next council meeting for the issuance of bonds. By the end of the fiscal year, we plan to issue bonds, approximately $35 million, to assist in paying for some of these projects and drawing down on some of our general fund reserves.”

Wilson said that the city has engaged construction management contractors for support on some of these projects and will evaluate the need to hire additional staff members.

Erickson pushed for the reconstruction of the City Playhouse across the street from City Hall to be prioritized.

“That’s going to be a major jewel of what we have here,” Erickson said. “And I know in talking with other cities when they find out we’re building and doing a playhouse along with everything else, they’re like, wow, that’s really great.”

Public Facilities Commission Chairman Andrew Solomon reiterated the requests he and his colleagues had submitted to the subcommittee for funds to complete the space under the Aquatic Recreation Center’s staircase and to build standalone 24-hour restrooms at Plummer Park, which the mayor and vice mayor seemed to support.

Erickson ended the meeting asking staff to compile data that paints a clear picture of West Hollywood’s economic outlook, comparing its surplus to the deficits nearby cities are facing. 

I think that shows the healthiness of what we’re looking at trying to accomplish but also I think reassures the public that when we say we have a $31 million budget surplus, we’re not just saying we have a $31 million budget surplus compared with actual numbers and facts to other cities.,” Erickson said. “The city of West Hollywood has the lowest vacancy rate of Culver City, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and Beverly Hills, and we have those numbers available. So I just want real numbers and facts being presented and not assumptions.”

Though this meeting lacked the hard numbers the mayor and vice mayor hoped for, a more in-depth discussion of the budget will happen at the subcommittee’s April 24 meeting.

Budget must-dos

• Operating budget must be balanced – annual, ongoing revenues are greater than or equal to annual, ongoing expenditures
• Proprietary funds (sewer, solid waste, street maintenance) must be self-supporting
• Major capital investments will be made using long-term financing
• Comparable increases for revenue and expenditures: new spending must have new funding or operating offsets
• Adequate reserves must be maintained: at least 25% of the General Fund Budget
• Maintain a long-range fiscal perspective

5 1 vote
Article Rating
ADVERTISEMENT

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

13 Comments
Newest
Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Franki Jacobs
27 days ago

The architect that lowered all other architect bids and was on a Governor statewide sustainability project was a consultant for Government to negotiate with other architect/construction firms to lower the excessive chosen architect firm bids. I think a key issue is the City officials, except for Council Member/former Mayor Meister has not been in the high level of experience in budget awareness of what is considered excessive bids. Hiring construction managers without the experience is like hiring an Architect that is very very excessive in their City Project Bids and out of many bids, the City chooses the most expensive… Read more »

Londa
Londa
1 month ago

That interim housing thing is going to be such a waste of money. Wait till Karen Bass gets audited. I’d instead give the homeless people cash. You’re getting ripped off by these “rehabilitation” businesses, which are worse than health insurance companies with bloated expenses. Our government is supposed to protect us from that, but they use these projects to get ahead in more significant elections. What a disgusting lot.

:dpb
:dpb
1 month ago

So the “people part is harder” says Wilson. Oh ya, that means residents, tax payers. Oh, and now we need a bond measure. If you recall the last bond measure resulted in the highest sales tax in the country (and we’re still there) paying for West Hollywood Park. No. Not. Nada. We’re tapped out.

Andrew Solomon
Andrew Solomon
1 month ago
Reply to  :dpb

That’s taking his quote out of context. When he said the “people part” he was referring to the hiring of contractors or additional city employees in the public works division to address the capital works projects.

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
29 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Solomon

He told you that, or are you attempting to translate for the ignorant residents?

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
1 month ago

We could have a smaller surplus, but that might raise our borrowing costs, which in the long run is probably not a prudent way to deal with our municipal finances. The “priority” capital projects are not particularly challenging compared to building the Library or the re-construction of Santa Monica Blvd.; the projects should be well on their way to completion within two years. But given our experiences with capital projects, the Council should not set too great an emphasis on artificial deadlines.

Franki Jacobs
27 days ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

The challenge is we were under consultant mgt contract with an Architect firm that was chosen by former Governor on statewide project, and has been a consultant to negotiate lower bids from other firms to not invite the excessive over priced bids to win in the bidding pool of architect firms. Our client was #2 out of 91 firms that bid the City Park Renovation Capital Project as example and the only firm with his history to be able to lower the city bids of their chosen firm, and manage mis-managed projects. His projects have included donating the City of… Read more »

Last edited 27 days ago by Franki Jacobs
WehoQueen
WehoQueen
1 month ago

Wasteful spending will be discussed? How about starting with David Wilson’s outrageous salary.

:dpb
:dpb
1 month ago

There’s a reason this meeting is held at 4pm on a Thursday: Residents are at work and can’t attend. This meeting is purposely calendared during working hours.

David Reid
David Reid
1 month ago
Reply to  :dpb

Truth! And only one hearing?!?!?

Andrew Solomon
Andrew Solomon
1 month ago
Reply to  David Reid

No there will be more subcommittee meetings. Plus council meetings where they actually discuss the budget.

Today was pretty light. It was more focused on the process of setting the budget, rather than the actual budget numbers themselves. Still, it was poorly attended.

JF1
JF1
1 month ago

Public Safety FIRST‼️

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
1 month ago
Reply to  JF1

Beverly Hills, a city with approximately the same population and is also a tourists and night-time venue, has twice the number of law enforcement officers than West Hollywood. It is easy to have a substantial budget “surplus” when you are short-changing law enforcement.

13
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x