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Del Mar set to vote on budget

DEL MAR — Council is set to vote June 3 on a proposed two-year budget and capital improvement program, funding for community support programs and other items discussed during a two-day workshop held May 13 and May 14. 

Council members agreed to provide in each of the next two years $2,500 for the Community Resource Center’s Holiday Baskets Program and $50,000 to the Del Mar Village Association for economic development and downtown revitalization.

They also supported funding for Del Mar Community Connections’ transportation services for seniors citizens in the amounts of $17,500 and $18,360 in fiscal years 2013-14 and 2014-15, respectively.

A request was approved from the Del Mar Historical Society for $3,820 for Del Mar Voices, an oral history project.

However, council members suggested that the organization seek grants for the $1,000 needed to add Quick Response codes to the city’s historical sites and buildings.

An additional $400 was OK’d for the annual San Dieguito Lagoon Day event held in the spring.

The tentatively approved operational budget maintains current service levels with only minor adjustments, City Manager Scott Huth said.

Staff will also be moving forward to include plans in the budget to pay off the pension side fund.

In 2003, the California Public Employees Retirement System, or CalPERS, required all member agencies with less than 100 employees to be combined into a risk-sharing pool to reduce the volatility of employer contribution rates.

Since CalPERS requires cities to have fully funded pension liabilities, side funds were created to account for the difference between the funded status of the pool and that of the each city’s individual plan.

Del Mar currently owes CalPERS about $3 million. By paying off the side fund, it is estimated the city will save nearly $1.2 million in interest payments, the unfunded pension liability will decrease by $3 million and annual pension contributions will decrease by approximately $450,000.

Council is seeking input from the Finance Committee before making a final decision on the payoff.

The two-year capital improvement program will move forward without including plans to fund a new City Hall.

Staff will also present council members with revenue-generating ideas that will be discussed one or two at a time at each council meeting beginning in July.

“There’ll probably be some low-lying fruit that we can probably deal with right away on that but in terms of a process so we don’t overwhelm anybody,” Huth said. “I like the idea (to) chip away at it one meeting at a time.”

A final budget will be presented at the June 3 meeting for review and approval. Discussion and implementation of a project to improve sidewalks throughout the city, the 10-year capital improvement program and a comprehensive facilities planning process are on the calendar for future meetings.

Mayor Terry Sinnott said he would also like staff to present some of the city’s cost-saving ideas.

“Highlight some of the neat things that might be happening in the organization because sometimes you implement them and you know they’re happening but the public doesn’t know,” Sinnott said. “Put a spotlight on that as well. I think that would be good.”