Oceanside – A half dozen speakers addressed City Council at the April 2 council meeting to request that city arts receive funding in the upcoming fiscal budget, and benefit from the city’s increased prosperity.
“Arts enhance civic life, culture, and the economy,” Jonathan Fohrman, Oceanside Arts Commission vice chairman, said. “Without funding arts, activities and opportunities are limited.”
Oceanside Museum of Art executive director Daniel Foster said the time is right to develop cultural tourism.
“We need a real, sincere city investment in that vision,” Foster said.
Mayor Jim Wood and Councilwoman Esther Sanchez said they are supportive of funding city arts.
Councilman Jack Feller, who is a liaison to the arts commission, said an updated workplan is needed before he can agree to set aside funds.
Councilman Jerry Kern said he is an advocate of the arts, and reiterated the need to know where the money would go.
“I want to see some kind of plan before we commit more money,” Kern said.
City Council discussed budget priorities in a department-by-department breakdown at the budget workshop on March 12.
There was no opportunity for community input at the workshop, which had to wait for April 2.
Overall the city budget is healthy, with an expected 3.3 percent growth in property tax, 2.2 percent growth in transit occupancy tax, and one-time funds of $4 million for 2014-2015.
Top budget priorities set at the workshop were reviewed April 2. They are fire apparatus replacement, citywide RSC radios, sand replenishment and deferred building maintenance.
Sand replenishment efforts are earmarked at $100,000 plus.
“One hundred thousand will not solve the problem,” Michelle Lawrence, deputy city manager, said. “We need to set money aside and apply it to future use.”
Additional police patrols downtown, addressing homeless encampments, and additional gang prevention are also at the top of the list.
Three hundred thousand dollars, which is equivalent to hiring two additional police officers, was earmarked for downtown patrol.
Sanchez said she supports funding additional police officers, but feels the police chief should determine how to utilize officers.
Kern said he sees the need for additional patrols downtown in order to address the homeless problem that deters visitors.
Other budget priorities are pier maintenance, opening Marshall Street Pool for summer, reopening Chavez Resource Center, restoring library hours, and long-tern San Luis Rey River maintenance.
Seed money for railroad Quieter Zone design is also listed as a priority.
Sanchez said the money could be better spent on economic development.
Mayor Jim Wood suggested the $650,000 set aside for Quieter Zone design be put into repairing potholes.
Funds to update the General Plan, a one percent employee compensation, fire fixed overtime funding, and economic development were also set as priorities.
Fixed overtime funding saves the city the cost of hiring additional firefighters, and ensures the mandatory numbers of first responders are on duty.
Council members asked for further discussion on fixed overtime during the workshop. There was no specific discussion on it at the April 2 meeting.
During the meeting council members asked that additional items be considered for funding.
Feller and Wood asked for funding for graffiti abatement.
Wood added building a permanent Fire Station No. 8., and hiring an economic development officer.
Wood and Sanchez requested funding for a city employee wellness program.
Councilman Gary Felien asked that money to be set aside for long-term road maintenance.
Felien and Sanchez supported funding a kitchen at the El Corazon Senior Center.
Lawrence said all suggestions would be considered.
Council’s deadline to adopt a final budget is June 30.