Balanced 2016 Budget Approved

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2016 City Budget

Malibu City Council voted unanimously Monday night to approve a yearly budget that includes a fund balance surplus of just over $200,000, despite fronting the money for the massive Civic Center sewer project.

The sewer is adding millions of dollars to this year’s budget, but the money is set to be reimbursed by civic center landowners.

General Fund revenues and expenditures hovered around their usual amount: $26.9 million in revenues and $26.3 million in expenses.

Though the total budget for the fiscal year beginning in July stands at $81.4 million in expenditures, by far the largest expense — over $40.2 million — is due to the Civic Center Wastewater Treatment Facility.

At the Monday meeting, Planning Commissioner John Mazza spoke to ask City Manager Reva Feldman why the city was on the hook for the loans, which by his calculation would cost the city $400,000 in interest.

“The assessment district [is] for the benefit of 16 commercial owners — it’s not a city obligation; it’s an assessment district,” Mazza said. “You’re asking the citizens of Malibu to pay taxes to subsidize this money. In other words, you’re giving free loans to a non-city entity.”

“If you want to float their money to them for free, why not charge? Or, why not gather that money before you spend it?” Mazza asked. “Why does the City of Malibu have to come up with $20 million for a year or a year and a half to help them? I don’t remember the city ever saying, ‘Oh, we’ll subsidize the Trancas Water Assessment District,’ if they build it, or any other assessment district.”

Feldman replied that the city does provide a similar service to other assessment districts.

“This isn’t any different from any other grant or reimburseful-based funding that we do for any other projects,” Feldman said. “I don’t talk about it quite as much, but we’re dealing with this all the time for Measure R funding [and] for other types of funding that we do projects with.”

Feldman also said the city is already working to pay back the loans.

“Our goal is to get those invoices in and turned around as quickly as possible,” Feldman said. “Certainly our intent is to get all that funding paid for and be able to invest as much as possible.”

Another notable change in the 2016-17 budget is an additional $49,000 in grants allocated to nonprofit community groups in Malibu, bringing the total General Fund Grants up to $175,000 over last year’s $126,000.

Twenty-five community groups received city grants, including the Boys and Girls Club of Malibu, the Malibu Community Labor Exchange, the Ocean Park Community Center and the Shark Fund.

The Ocean Park Community Center is a Santa Monica-based nonprofit that will come to Malibu to work with the homeless population in the coming months.