Facility Closures Contribute to Dip in City’s Revenues

Numbers continue to reflect the expectations of what a pandemic means for San Marino’s budgeting, according to an update last week from the city’s finance director.
General fund revenues fell by around 2.7% in the second quarter year-over-year, according to Finance Director Paul Chung. This represents a drop by $322,000, hardly an insurmountable amount for a city flush in reserve funding. The primary culprit, Chung explained, is the interruption of services that simply don’t work during a pandemic.
“Obviously with the COVID impacts, we have the facility closures due to the library and recreation programs being shut down. Those revenues are not as high as last year,” he said. “[Investment] yields are also lower as treasury yields continue to be low due to the COVID impacts.”
In the second quarter, which runs from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, the Recreation Department is down $140,000 in revenue from the prior year, while fees from passport processing are down by $33,000 — undoubtedly because of decreased travel during the pandemic — and the Community Development Department is down $79,000 in large part because of fewer plan checks and other services.
Facility rental income — typically from Lacy Park or recreation facilities — is also down by $14,000. Fines and forfeitures are also down by $56,000 from last year, although Chung notes that last year’s revenue is probably an outlier because of a singular $60,000 fine for one tree trimming violation.
Parking citations are also down this year, largely because various parking restrictions have been suspended throughout the pandemic.
On a positive note — at least for the city government — is that property values seem to be trending up for San Marino. Property taxes are up more than $365,000 for the quarter, a 5% jump from last year. Year to date, the city has a property tax revenue of more than $8,596,000, representing a 3.8% improvement from the prior year. (The timing of property tax receipts fluctuates greatly in a given year, hence the discrepancies between the two quarters.)
“We are doing really well on the property tax side,” Chung said.
The city has received around $181,000 in reimbursements from CARES Act funding, which includes money to help fund coronavirus-related expenses for local governments. Chung said he is planning to seek additional reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Additionally, it was reimbursed around $4,500 for assistance provided during the Bobcat Fire last year.
In terms of expenses, the city has found some savings that are also pandemic-related.
For example, because of schools being closed to this point, the city has saved around $48,000 it would otherwise spend on crossing guards for students. Any sorts of offsite training or professional development seminars have also been foregone because of the pandemic.
The financial report, which is unaudited, can be reviewed in the agenda packet for last week’s City Council meeting.

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