Tweaks to the City’s Fiscal Year 2022 to 2033 budget have leveraged one time funds and new revenue sources in an effort to restore sorely desired resident services such as after school care, sports field access and library services.

These additional service restorations came at the behest of City Councilmembers, who while understanding the financial restraints of the City’s recovering economy, urged staff to get creative to find funding for resident needs. 

In total there is a $533,000 change in expenditures between the budget first presented to Council in a May 24 meeting, and the budget approved by Council in a June 28 meeting. The overall adopted budget now totals $665.4 million.

The largest chunk in additional spending is $400,000 in funding to restore supervised after school programs at all seven public elementary schools in Santa Monica. 

The increase in spending will be funded in part by an anticipated $241,600 increase in revenues from the City’s new parklet program, which was also approved in the June 28 meeting. This program will charge restaurants to rent parking spots and continue the popular outdoor dining spaces that have been provided on a free pilot basis since the start of the pandemic.

One time funding is also being provided by the use of dedicated reserve funds and by restricting access to consumer protection funds in the City Attorney’s Office for one year. 

In addition to after school care, boosted revenues are being used to support the Council identified priority to restore sports fields at Clover Park, Memorial Park and Los Amigos Park. 

“72 percent of residents live in rental properties here in Santa Monica and so green space is very limited here,” said Councilmember de la Torre. “The more that we can do to make it available to our residents and those that visit here, the better we are as a city,”

The last key change in the revised budget is funding for a paid parental leave program for City staff. The program will provide six weeks of leave at 100 percent of an employee’s salary and become effective on July 1.

Councilmembers discussed two additional funding priorities that, while not accounted for in the revised budget, are in the process of being secured. 

The first additional priority is restoring library services and hours at all five branches as services are currently only operating at around 30 percent of pre-pandemic levels. Following Councilmember direction, staff will return to Council with a proposal to expand library hours using one-time funds reallocated from capital improvement projects that can be deferred.

“There’s a lot of children in our school district who require summer school because they need some extra help and after school they need more support, so supporting the libraries and expanded library service I think is going to be very essential,” said de la Torre. “There’s a lot of families trying to catch up academically, so I think it’s essential for us to provide those services.”

Staff are also working on a plan to provide rental subsidies to rent control tenants who will be hit hard by this year’s unusually high 6 percent annual rent adjustment. The Rent Control Board had no choice to approve this rent adjustment as it is based on a set formula determined by inflation. 

“Is there some possibility of some funding source that would allow us to identify our most vulnerable renters who are subjected to this extraordinarily high rent increase and provide them some relief?” said Councilmember Gleam Davis, later adding “We know that our Rent Control Board by virtue of compulsion by the charter has to increase rents by 6 percent beginning September 1, and we know that we live in a community where a number of people who live in rent control units are rent burdened.”

Staff said that the City has federal funding available to provide rental subsidies through the The HOME Investment Partnerships American Rescue Plan Program (HOME-ARP). Santa Monica received an allocation of over $2 million though the HOME-ARP and City staff are currently working with the Rent Control Board to survey the needs of rent burdened households and determine how to best allocate funds.