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Collin Breaux, San Clemente Times

The City of San Clemente is preparing the proposed annual budget for Fiscal Year 2020-21, taking into consideration the 2020 health pandemic.

A budget workshop is scheduled for Wednesday, May 27 at 6 p.m. The total FY 2020-21 budget for all funds amounts to $255.9 million. Revenues total $143.7 million and expenditures total $150.1 million, according to a budget report. The 2020-21 budget starts on July 1 and goes through June 30, 2021.

Interim City Manager Robert Dunek said that while the presented budget is balanced, they finish FY 2019-20 in a “time of uncertainty.”

“While times are uncertain, rest assured that the City of San Clemente is holding steady in this environment that seemingly changes on a daily basis,” Dunek states in the budget report. “The proposed FY 2020-21 budget recognizes this reality and maintains funding for all of the City’s core services.”

The FY 2020-21 budget emphasizes funding for public safety through police, fire code compliance, marine safety, and other programs to deal with quality of life issues, Dunek said. It also funds one-time legal and advocacy costs. Police services are budgeted for $18.5 million, and fire/ambulance services are budgeted for $11.9 million.

The city had to freeze funding for budgeted positions, limit part-time staff hours and take other financial measures due to COVID-19 pandemic and increased contract costs from two additional deputies under the Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) contract.

The city’s general fund, the main operating fund, has budgeted revenues of $68.2 million and budgeted expenditures of $70 million. Social programs and outreach, economic development assistance, special events and city council contingency costs for council-initiated items are included in the general fund. Some events may be limited or postponed due to the health crisis.

The upcoming budget also includes funding for Avenida Del Mar street rehabilitation.

In terms of a financial forecast, operating deficits are projected beginning in fiscal year 2021-22 due to increasing public safety contractual costs, higher pension costs and other costs outpacing revenue projections.

“As always, the City will continue to monitor the long-term forecast by methodically reviewing operational and capital expenditures to ensure ongoing revenues support ongoing expenditure levels,” the report said. “Projected operating deficits will be eliminated during the annual budget process.”

The 2020-21 budget also allocates $17 million toward capital improvement projects and $6.5 million for maintenance and other projects. Capital improvement projects include the OCSD police substation and street rehabilitation for South El Camino Real. Maintenance work will include sidewalk and pavement repairs and water and sewer system rehabilitation.

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