By Shawn Raymundo

The city of San Clemente ended fiscal year 2018-19 collecting about $2.5 million more in revenue than expected while spending roughly $2.3 million less than what had been budgeted, the city reported last month.

According to the city’s fourth-quarter financial report for the previous fiscal year, which ended on June 30, 2019, the city received about $72.33 million in revenue, exceeding the budget projection of nearly $69.84 million.

The biggest source of the city’s revenues came from property taxes, which contributed $34.52 million toward general fund coffers. Initially, the city had estimated property-tax revenue to be $34.11 million.

Sales-tax revenue made up $10.6 million of the city’s revenues last year, while the rest of the general fund revenues came from various sources, such as transient occupancy taxes, intergovernmental grants, and permits and fees.

For the last fiscal year, the city had budgeted expenditures at $78.9 million, but the city reported spending only $76.6 million, or 97%, of those funds. Going over the report with the city council on Dec. 17, Financial Services Officer Jake Rahn attributed the dip in spending to certain line items such as salaries and benefits.

According to the financial report, the city’s largest expenditure in fiscal 2018-19 was for contractual services, spending nearly $37.27 million—about $764,200 less than what had been budgeted.

Spending on salaries and benefits was set at $13 million and close to $5.6 million, respectively, However, the report shows, salaries cost the city $12.05 million while benefits amounted to about $5.38 million.

Broken down by department, spending on public works, as well as police and fire services, made up the bulk of the city’s total expenditures last fiscal year. According to the report, the city spent $15.84 million on police services and $10.11 million on fire services.

In the last fiscal year, the city spent nearly $19.3 million toward the Public Works Department.

The report noted that expenditures in fiscal 2018-19 increased from the prior fiscal year by $3.7 million.

“All departments increased, except for Public Works and Beach Parks and Recreation, which decreased. The largest increases were in City General, Police and Fire,” the city stated in the report, adding that increases in the city’s general expenses were due to “capital costs for the Negocio remodel, legal costs, insurance, and past public safety unfunded liability.”

During that Dec. 17 meeting, Rahn also spoke to the first-quarter financial report for fiscal year 2019-20. The current fiscal year budget projects revenues to reach $67.6 million and anticipates spending to be $71.6 million.

As of the end of the first quarter, encompassing the months of July through September, the city collected $7.27 million in revenue and spent $17.6 million. The disparity, Rahn, explained, isn’t uncommon at that stage of a fiscal year.

“There’s really not a lot to report on the first quarter. Typically at this juncture, there’s only been three months going through, and a lot of our property taxes and other taxes don’t come in until, I’ll call it, the December-through-April time frame,” Rahn said. “So, typically our expenditures are higher than revenues at this point.”

This fiscal year, the city expects to collect $35.63 million in property-tax revenue—about $1.11 million more than what was collected in the previous fiscal year. Sales-tax revenue projection is currently set at close to $10.13 million, only slightly above actual revenue collections in fiscal 2018-19.

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