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Lancaster unveils 2017-18 budget

Merdies Hayes | 6/16/2017, midnight

The city of Lancaster has presented its proposed fiscal year budget for 2017-18 with an eye toward financial stability, infrastructure and expansion of city services.

So far, the proposed balanced budget amounts to $187.7 million and centers on principals such as diversifying and creating new revenue streams, and maintaining healthy operating revenues or, more commonly put, holding a “rainy day fund” (minimum 28 percent) in case of any economic downturn. City officials believe that by adhering to these and other important financial guidelines, the budget can be both flexible and collaborative.

“Adhering to our conservative budget principles has been fundamental to the city’s continued success in achieving a balanced budget and ample reserves,” said Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris. “As we celebrate our 40th year of incorporation, the city of Lancaster continues to thrive, even during uncertain economic times, due to diligent and responsible fiscal practices. We are immensely proud of the city’s ongoing commitment to financial prudence and operational efficiencies.”

Among the highlights of the proposed budgets are:

—Municipal leadership via “innovative, non-traditional approaches to service delivery” (e.g. Lancaster Choice Energy);

—Public safety via “effective approaches that engage the community and local law enforcement;”

—Infrastructure by way of renewal, prevention and ownership, “as represented by Revive 25 and the recent street light acquisition from Southern California Edison;”

—Economic development through high-level partnerships “with industry leaders who embrace likeminded principles (e.g. BYD, Morton Manufacturing, Lance Campers);

—Maintenance and expansion of city services/programs via “ongoing, growing annual events and projects” as well as the largest capital improvement project in city history.

Lancaster’s total budget reportedly comprises general, restricted and special funds. Some of the city’s newest revenues contributing to the budget since the launch of Lancaster Choice Energy and the California Clean Energy Authority include franchise fees, PEG (public, educational and governmental) fees, and new transportation revenues. Specific to the new budget, the city general fund is the largest unrestricted funding source, with the fiscal year 2017-18 proposed total amounting to $67,629,975. General fund resources include sales tax (projected at $20,368,491), property tax (projected at $19,725,525), as well as fees and grants.

The Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) is a five-year strategy for funding the construction and repair of city facilities, streets, roads, storm drains, traffic signals and parks. Most of the CIP funding will go toward the Revive 25 street rehabilitation, bus stop improvements, pedestrian gap closures, freeway interchange enhancements, intersection controls, traffic signal upgrades and sewer maintenance.