Girsh Park founder Pat O’Malley was moved to tears, and found himself unable to finish his emotional “thank you” to the Goleta City Council and city staff, as they formally adopted the first two-year budget in the city’s history on 6/25. Besides doubling its contribution to $100,000 annually, the city gave Girsh Park its own specific line item in the budget, rather than lumping it in with the larger recreation budget.
The council also approved $150,000 for a fish passage on San Jose Creek, to be added after modifications are made to prevent flooding in downtown Goleta. The city’s relatively modest budget allocated expected revenues of about $30 million over the next two years, including $16 million in sales, property, and hotel bed taxes that must flow to the County of Santa Barbara as per the revenue neutrality agreement; a contract Goleta signed as a condition of its incorporation, promising that its becoming a city would not hurt the county’s coffers.
Department heads also presented the council with projects they are working on for the near future. These ranged from a new park in Old Town, and a new city website, to the development of 600 residential units and 400 hotel rooms. The budget also includes cost of living increases of three percent annually for city employees, but no increase in retirement benefits. It identifies $8,000 as an unreserved fund balance for the coming fiscal year, which staff characterized as “a small cushion” and which city councilmembers worried was too small. In approving the budget, councilmember Roger Aceves challenged staff to increases revenues, suggesting business licenses as a potential source, and also recommending that staff examine strategies used by other cities. Aceves also challenged the business community to help fund city sports, arts, and music programs.