At the May 8th City Council meeting, the Council adopted the biennial budget (2019-20 and 2020-21) that addresses the priorities of the community while generating revenues that meet city expenditures. The council reviewed each line item over the past six weeks and passed a budget that keeps our police and fire departments at very strong levels, and simultaneously, providing additional resources to fund homelessness, code enforcement, and streets improvements. The following provides a breakdown on these three priorities:
Homelessness – The adopted budget provides funding for the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission to provide shelter and treatment services for the homeless within Cathedral City. The budget also continues to provide general fund dollars to be used for regional efforts to address homelessness or other partnerships with non-profits. In addition, the City will fund a second Homeless Liaison Officer position in the police department allowing the department to provide coverage seven days a week.
Code Enforcement – In addition to providing funding to continue the existing Code Enforcement programs and services, the proposed budget will add an additional position in Code Enforcement. This new position will help the division operate more efficiently and effectively, improve response to priority cases and develop improved outreach to the community to make residents more aware of the provision of the code related to property maintenance.
Streets – The adopted budget adds a general fund commitment of $900,00 to the street Capital Improvement Program (CIP) of the City. This will meet the required maintenance of effort provisions in state law allowing the City to receive an additional $900,000 in SB1 (gas tax) funds for local street improvement projects. Collectively, the general fund contributions, SB1 funds, grants and other street funds will allow the following street projects to be initiated in the next two years:
- West Whitewater Neighborhood Streets reconstruction
- Slurry and paving projects on DaVall Drive
- Drainage improvements at Date Palm and Los Gatos
- Avenida Maravilla improvements at La Pasada
- Sarah Street pavement rehabilitation
- Ramon Road bridge and roadway widening (Cathedral City participation in Palm Springs project)
- Avenida Ximino neighborhood street improvements
- Landau/McCallum traffic signal and intersection improvements
- Whispering Palms neighborhood street improvements
- Traffic signal upgrades across the City
- Cathedral Canyon bridge construction
Beyond these three priorities, the council approved a resolution to seek a $8.5 million state park grant (Proposition 68 funds passed by statewide voters in November 2018) to build a 7.5 acre park in the Dream Homes neighborhood. The budget also provides revenue to complete the new Cathedral City Community Amphitheater in our downtown while maintaining the increasingly popular and well-received festivals that enhance the quality of life for our residents and helps generate additional tourism revenue for our businesses.
Not only does the adopted budget provide improved City services, it also keeps our “rainy day” savings above $21 million, which surpasses the council’s policy of maintaining a minimum 33% fund balance of budgeted expenditures. Much of the city’s financial strength can be attributed to revenues from property taxes ($9.967 million for FY 2019-20); the Utility Users’ Tax on the use of telecommunications, cable (video), electricity gas, and solid waste ($2.7 million for FY 2019-20); Transactions and Use Tax of 1% on all retailers doing business within the city ($6.987 million for FY 2019-20); and the Cannabis and Marijuana Tax ($6.25 million for FY 2019-20).
With any budget, whether at work or home, there is always more need than available resources. However, this financial plan adopted by your City Council keeps Cathedral City moving forward in a prudent manner while addressing the priorities most raised by our residents, businesses, and seasonal visitors.