With the financials now accounted for, the City of Beverly Hills rounded out the 2018/19 fiscal year with $24.4 million in unallocated funds, a City staff report found. The City Council is now in the midst of deciding what to do with the funds, which could include pre-funding a portion of its $280 million unfunded pension liability or spending millions to move forward on a plan to renovate La Cienega Park, which still needs Council approval.
Staff recommendations for “Potential Projects to be Funded from the General Fund Available Balance” include: $7.5 million for the La Cienega Park Project; $7.5 million for the Subway Portal Project; $5 million for Property Acquisition; and $3 million for the Section 115 Pension Trust. Precisely, $1.123 million would subsequently remain undesignated in the fund’s balance if all item allocations were to get approved as recommended in the Dec. 17, 2019 report.
“We are fortunate that our local economy remains strong,” said City Manager George Chavez. “As economic forecasts can always change, we continue to remain fiscally prudent while focusing on City Council and community priorities.”
Total General Fund operating revenue for 2018/19 increased by 3.5 percent (up $9.2 million) to $270 million compared to the previous fiscal year.
At the City Council’s final Study Session of the year on Dec. 17, the General Fund balance of unallocated funds decreased slightly to just over $24.1 million after the Council unanimously voted to spend $290,000 to expand the successful Nurse
Practitioner Program (NPP). The staff report entitled “Fiscal Year 2018/19 General Fund Results and Available Balance Allocation; and Appropriation of Funding Fiscal Year 2019/20 for the Nurse Practitioner Program the amount $290,225,” was originally agendized to be reviewed on Dec. 10.
The item on the unallocated funds, as set forth on the Study Session agenda both times, was slated to include “a discussion about how City Council would like to allocate the General Fund available balance as of June 30, 2019.” The item will once again be placed on the agenda for the next Study Session, on Jan. 9 at 2:30 p.m., confirmed City Spokesperson Keith Sterling.
The report, which was prepared by Budget and Revenue Officer Don Harrison and Director of Finance Jeff Muir, states that the available General Fund monies would only “earmark” the dollars for a particular item.
“The appropriation of funds would occur when a specific item returns to Council for approval at a later time,” states the report.
The report concluded that “the prudent practice of conservatively budgeting revenues” allowed the City to achieve a total General Fund operating revenue which exceeded the original budget. While growth rates may have slowed in the major revenue categories, all revenue categories exceeded the previous years.
“Overall the revenues performed strongly again FY 2018/19, although there are some signs of slowing,” stated the report. “The City is fortunate to have operating revenues that exceed operating expenditures.”