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The Rent Control Board (RCB) is an agency uniquely focused on the financial with analysis of expenses and revenues baked into their DNA. However, it will be their own cash flow up for discussion this week when the RCB meets to discuss their annual budget.

After hearing an update on the current budget, the Board will consider is operating budget for the 18/19 fiscal year at their Thursday meeting.

Staff estimates the department will spend $5,241,630 and take in $5,286,312. The Boards revenue is derived from an annual registration fee of $198 per unit and that fee is not expected to increase this year.

The largest expense for the department is staff.

The budget includes $3,000,000 to cover all salary-related costs for 25 full-time employees and includes $73,000 to cover costs associated with replacing up to four employees that are expected to retire next year such as paying out accrued leave or short periods of overlap between new and old employees.

“However, many of the people who plan to retire have been with the Agency for years and it is likely the positions will be filled with staff at lower (entry-level) salaries,” said the staff report. “The resulting salary adjustments from these changes will be reflected in future years’ budgets. It is estimated that health insurance costs will continue to rise with a projected increase of 9% as of January 2019. Some of the insurance costs are offset by employee contributions toward the cost of the premium for their selected health care plan.”

Workers’ Compensation Insurance will cost $103,524, employee benefits are budgeted at $480,877 and retirement contributions are allocated at $651,957.

$50,000 is budgeted to cover legal expenses with a reserve of $41,975 in case of unexpected legal costs.

Staff said there is an expected 3.8 percent increase in costs charged to the RCB by the City of Santa Monica for services such as maintenance of office space and services provided by the departments of Finance, Purchasing, Facilities Maintenance, Human Resources and Information Systems.

The budget includes a one-time expense of $425, 000 for a new system to track rent control properties. A new system was budgeted for in the 17/18 process but those funds were not spent and will roll over to pay for the system next year.

“The new system will increase efficiencies and improve the user experience through electronic workflows, improved reporting capabilities, bi-directional data exchange with other applications, a web-based self-serve portal for landlords and tenants, contact management and tracking, improved access to property-specific documents, and case management for petitions and applications, including noticing of parties,” said the staff report.

An additional payment of $49,622 will be made to pay down a PERS loan.

After the budget discussion, the Board will also discuss a resolution asking City Hall to increase support for the Preserve Our Diversity rent subsidy program to help additional rent-burdened senior citizens.

The Rent Control Board will meet Thursday, May 24 at 7 p.m. in City Hall, 1685 Main St.

Matthew Hall

Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...