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The Santa Monica Rent Control Board ended its last budget cycle with a small projected surplus of about $42,000.

No board action was needed when the Board discussed the budget this week but officials said there were clouds on the horizon.

“Last year, the board collected approximately $164,000 more in revenue than was originally projected, and we were able to reduce our expenditures by approximately $124,000, resulting in net revenue of approximately $330,000 … As I said, the report is detailed,” said Executive Director Tracy Condon, thanking her peers for preparing the budget.

Commissioner Caroline Torosis recognized the balanced budget, “however, I’m very, very concerned about our impending eviction (crisis) in the wake of COVID and the number of vacant units that we are seeing in our community.”

These are all events that are not quite clear, nor does anybody know what’s going to happen, especially in the future election, Torosis added, asking, “Do we have any sort of indication of stability moving forward here, or what the next year’s looking like for this agency?”

Condon said there is certainly uncertainty. “There’s uncertainty about the economy as you’ve expressed, but this year we have been able to collect the registration fee from property owners that they are required to pay so we do not see a major impact on this year’s budget. But we need to take it easy and watch what’s happening to come towards us in the future.

The budget is typically prepared in the spring, “and we will, at that time, be able to provide more information. But I am hoping that we will be able to have a budget that is similar to this year’s budget probably with a bit larger deficit,” Condon said.

Torosis noted the importance to remain fiscally conservative, especially since there will likely be no assistance coming to landlords until after the election.

“We were anticipating some sort of relief from the federal government so that we could get some relief to our landlords, quite frankly, to make sure that people are able to stay in their homes and landlords are able to stay great property owners and provide great housing for our tenants,” Torosis said. “So, I’m very concerned to see what happens. We know that the federal legislature has decided not to really push anything until after the election so we don’t know what’s going to happen. And I would just say that I would like to be as conservative as possible just because we haven’t seen that stimulus and that bill that we anticipated. And I think that could have some unintended consequences coming down the pike here.”

Brennon@smdp.com