Photo by Ross Furukawa

Santa Monica’s Rent Control Board will gather this Thursday for the first time in nearly a month to adopt its final budget report for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

In June of 2019, the board adopted an operating expense budget around $5.3 million, but a staff report states the total revenue received for the fiscal year was $164,720 more than staff had previously anticipated in the adopted budget.

“The additional revenue is due to greater than expected registration fee payments and interest earnings,” according to staff, who detailed expenditures for the year totaled $5.1 million, which was $124,221 less than projected.

The budget report allocated $3,650 for overtime during the fiscal year but, “by year-end, expenditures for this line were $35,583 more than budgeted,” staff said in the report. This is largely because several staff members have been fully engaged in the database replacement project while continuing to perform their normal job duties so overtime was required to complete all regular job duties and to keep the database replacement project on track.

Despite the nearly 1,000% increase in overtime wages, expenditure reductions were realized in two of the three budget categories — Salaries and Wages ($55,082) and Supplies and Expenses ($101,241) — and a net revenue of $41,888 resulted once all revenue and operating expenses were totaled.

As a result, the report states, “The net increase to the Agency’s reserves at the end of the fiscal year is $157,424, bringing the total fund balance to approximately $1.7 million.”

The Board will consider a resolution that would permit hearings by written declaration during the COVID-19 public health emergency in limited situations in which a party cannot meaningfully participate in the hearing by electronic means.

While most meetings have moved from in person to online, the staff report said some people lack the ability to participate in digital meetings and authorization to accept written arguments is necessary.

The Board will also consider amendments to several regulations to bring those regulations into conformity with recent changes to the state law Ellis Act, made by the 2019 Assembly Bill (AB) 1399, which became effective on January 1, 2020.

The Board is also expected to bid farewell to retiring General Counsel Stephen Lewis.