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Balanced budget presented to Council

City Council Update

On Monday, June 26, City Manager Greg Garrett and Finance Director Hamed Jones presented before the Tehachapi City Council a proposed balanced budget for the fiscal year 2023/24 and extending out to 2027/28.

The primary budget challenges will come from the city's General Fund, said Jones. Income to the General Fund comes primarily from property taxes, sales tax, transient occupancy tax, motor vehicle fees and other revenue from services. Expenditures include personnel, operating expenses, fire service, debt service and capital purchases.

One of the biggest challenges to the city General Fund in coming years, said Jones, is the unexpected increase the city received from Kern County Fire in 2022. The initial 950% increase was one of the main reasons for placing Measure S on the ballot. That payment ($709,837 in 2022) is expected to reach $2,196,250 annually by 2028 or a 6,703% increase over the six year period. Jones said that Measure S funds are also helping to increase public safety with the recruiting of new police officers and public works employees, as well as help cover unfunded mandates by the State of California, along with higher insurance premiums and increased expenses caused by inflation.

The General Fund will take up 37% of the city's revenue in 2023/24, followed by the airport at 19% and capital projects at 18%. The remaining revenue comes from fees collected from sewer, water, refuse, the SB1 gas tax, landscape and lighting district, development fees and transit fees. The General Fund will take up 33.9% of the city's expenditures in 2023/24 followed by the airport at 20.4% and capital projects at 17.5%, with the remaining coming from the other accounts. The total budgeted income for 2023/24 is $41,881,673 with expenditures at $39,725,416.

Finance Director Jones joined the City of Tehachapi in 2022 on the retirement of Hannah Chung, who had been with the city for 20 years. Jones was honored in February of 2023 with a Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA), continuing the legacy of Chung who had won the award multiple times in the past.

The Tehachapi City Council meets on the first and third Monday of the month at 6 p.m. They are currently meeting at the Police Department Community Room, 220 W. C St.