City adopts Annual Budget for Fiscal Year 2022-2023

Photo by Samantha Bravo.

The City of Malibu’s 2022-23 fiscal year budget goes into effect on July 1, and is based on the city’s work plan for the coming year. The new balanced budget remains focused on three things: Woolsey fire rebuilds, public safety, and school district separation. The proposed budget also includes six additional city staff positions and new investments in information technology.

The proposed budget totals $89.9 million in revenue and $89.8 million in expenses; and includes General Fund annual revenue of $46.2 million and General Fund annual expenditures for ongoing city operations of $44.2 million.

The Fiscal Year 2022-23 Budget proposes a starting General Fund Undesignated Reserve on July 1 of $44.4 million, and projects this reserve at $42.1 million by June 30, 2023 (98 percent of the annual operating budget). This exceeds the city’s goal of maintaining at least 50 percent of the operating budget in reserve, and exceeds the 65 percent needed to keep the highest credit rating.

After the Woolsey fire of November 2018, the City Council and staff committed to waiving some planning fees for residents rebuilding their primary homes, and the proposed budget maintains these waivers.

On December 19, 2019, the city received a $13.6 million settlement for the Woolsey Fire from Southern California Edison, and the money is being used to pay for rebuilding efforts, including replacement of city infrastructure damaged by the fire.

Just last month, on May 10, the city received an additional Woolsey Fire settlement of $4.2 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is restricted until all the fire-associated FEMA projects are completed. 

The city stated that revenues in all categories are strong, and that, unlike many cities, most of Malibu’s general fund revenue comes from property taxes, giving it greater fiscal stability. The $16.1 million in projected property taxes for the coming fiscal year comprise about 35 percent of General Fund revenue.

Besides property taxes, the city’s other major sources of revenue are the Utility User’s Tax (projected to be $2.2 million), Transient Occupancy Tax (projected to be $3 million), and Sales Tax (projected to be $4.5 million). In addition, franchise fees bring in about $650,000 per year.

The city also expects to receive about $2.8 million from the federal American Rescue Plan, and projects gas tax revenue at $370,000. They also receive rental income and other “special revenues.”

When it comes to city expenditures for fiscal year 2022-23, the budget includes two key reorganizations in the Planning Department and the Environmental Services Department. Both groups want to increase capacity and improve customer service by adding staff to keep up with the workload demands of the Woolsey fire rebuilds.

Planning wants to hire the equivalent of three full-time employees this year, and Environmental needs $500,000 in professional services for the Dark Sky plan review, inspection, and outreach services. In addition, a major study will be completed this fall that will give the city direction on proceeding with its Information Technology Strategic Plan of upgrades.

Ongoing expenditures related to the Woolsey fire include professional services like contract planners, inspectors, plan checking, and other services. Staff is continuing to manage a high volume of document research and public records requests associated with the fire rebuilds. Plus, some advertising, website and printing costs are required.

The city also reports that “significant capital expenditures remain” for various repair and restoration projects caused by the destruction from the Woolsey fire and subsequent winter storms, including a long list of storm drains, retaining walls and roads.

The budget includes converting the existing public safety manager position to a public safety director position, and transitioning the Public Safety Office into a department. “Community demand for public safety services and programing has grown exponentially” the city report stated. The office now provides ongoing response to the pandemic, including emergency operations, safety protocols, and outreach. 

The new budget includes an “ambitious” Capital Improvement Project plan costing $31.9 million — partly because the city needs to spend its Measure R and M highway operation funds before they expire. Crosswalks, medians, walkways, traffic studies, a skate park, and a Trancas right-turn lane are all in the plan.

In addition, construction is expected to begin on Phase Two of the Civic Center Water Treatment Facility in order to meet updated timelines set by the Regional Water Quality Control Board, with a budget of $16.5 million.