Oceanside’s financial forecast is static

OCEANSIDE — Jane McPherson, interim financial services director, described the city’s general funds for the next five years as “static,” and stated in the financial forecast delivered on Jan. 21 that there are no extra funds for city pay raises or capital improvement projects.

What the City Council is left to look at, at a future budget workshop, is how general funds are allocated, and if changes need to be made.

“It’s a great opportunity to review our spending priorities,” Councilwoman Esther Sanchez said.

Oceanside’s revenues are stable and expected to increase slightly over the next few years. Home prices and sales taxes are up due to the overall economic recovery.

The median sales price of a singe-family home is up 11 percent from 2013.

Sales tax is expected to increase by more than 1.5 percent a year for the next five years with a 1.9 percent increase in one year and a 1.8 percent increase in two years.

Another bright spot in the five-year forecast is an expected gain in transient occupancy tax (TOT). The increase is due to the opening of the Marriot SpringHill Suites in 2013 and the re-branding of two other hotels.

The biggest anticipated jumps in TOT are a 10 percent increase in one year, and 7 percent bump in two years.

Following the meeting, City Manager Steve Jepsen acknowledged the city’s modest revenue increases.

“The city is doing OK,” Jepsen said. “I don’t know what the new ‘well’ is, but we’re certainly doing better than we were doing two or three years ago.”

On a low note, spending increases will be seen in pension costs, and maintenance and operations.

Pensions costs will climb more than 1 percent a year with a 6.4 percent increase over five years.

Maintenance and operations costs will see a slower increase with a 1.3 percent rise over five years.

In response to the report, Mayor Jim Wood said he would like to trim consultant costs that can hit $1.5 million a pop, and see that money put toward other uses.

Overall the city financial forecast is cautious, and does not address future state and federal actions that may affect city funds.

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