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No big changes for Carlsbad despite low funds

CARLSBAD — The public had a chance to see what the future holds when the city held a budget workshop June 4.
City Council also had a chance to review the $195 million operating budget June 2 and hear forecasts for the upcoming fiscal year when department heads in the city outlined strategies for maintaining a strong economic position despite the forecast for weaker sales revenues.
The general fund revenue for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1, is down 6.2 percent from the previous year.
Aside from losses in property tax revenue, one of the biggest losses is tax from sales such as those from Car Country Carlsbad. Sales tax projections are down 13 percent. Hotel tax is listed as the third source of revenue for the general fund; however, the transient occupancy tax projections are down 10 percent for the upcoming year.
Despite the grim forecast, the city of Carlsbad will not have to lay off any full-time employees like other municipalities, but has implemented a freeze on hiring, for now, on filling vacant positions.
Finance Director Lisa Irvine has said the city has a plan for managing the recession that has allowed them to avoid major cuts to city services as well as staff.
“We’re adapting to the down-turned economy, and using this time to plan for the future needs of the city,” Irvine said. “It is important for our citizens to know we are being proactive during this time.”
So despite the budget decrease of 8 percent overall, residents will notice little change to services, such as police and fire, as well as recreational services. Community development projects, such as a partnership between the city and the New Village Arts Theatre organization to develop an artist support center at its location in the old warehouse on State Street, will proceed as well.
Community Development Director Sandra Holder said that renovation plans for the Westfield shopping mall, formerly Plaza Camino Real, are also under way. Renovation plans for the old Hadley’s Orchards building were approved by City Council on June 2.
City Council also had a chance to look at the Capital Improvements budget May 19.
Improvements for the upcoming year will include approximately 90 continuing projects, such as the widening of El Camino Real between Tamarack and Chestnut and the reconstruction of medians and a retaining wall. Wastewater and water infrastructure as well as the dredging of Agua Hedionda Lagoon and the addition of an electricity generating station at Maerkle Reservoir are also still planned.
Both the operating budget and the capital improvement budget are expected to go before City Council on June 16.