Belmont’s budget shows a surplus | Local News

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Belmont passed its 2023 budget, with a healthy general fund posting a surplus despite pandemic instabilities.






Davina injured


“With everything we’ve been through over the past few years, I think this budget is incredible,” said board member Davina Hurt. It creates operational stability, and I think that’s the best we can hope for at this point, but we’re always striving to do better.







Pierre-Charles

Pierre-Charles


Belmont’s overall budget for 2023 shows a surplus, although pandemic financial recovery and lower tax revenues remain long-term concerns. Belmont’s operating budget is $55.9 million. The city has general fund revenues of approximately $31 million, with expenditures of approximately $28.3 million, resulting in a surplus of $2.7 million.

Federal funding for the American Rescue Plan Act added $3.2 million to revenue, securing a surplus this year. For expenses, the Belmont Fire Protection District will receive $12.3 million this year, including $19.3 million earmarked for funding capital improvement projects.

Councilman Charles Stone noted that if the city now had a surplus and a strong reserve, the city could face uncertain times in the future. He said while the city couldn’t meet all of its needs for a growing area, like more staff and capital improvement projects, he was cautiously optimistic.

“This is a colossal undertaking, which clearly corresponds to our priorities, which are to continue to ensure the safety and quality of life of this city. We honestly don’t have the income that we would like to have,” Stone said.

Projections for the city’s general fund show declining revenues over the next 10 years, which will require the use of reserves to balance the budget. Belmont has spent the past year looking to broaden its base of revenue streams to help with future budgets. The city is exploring a fairer structure for small business community taxes through a business license tax update that will also increase revenue. The city is also considering raising its transitional occupancy tax from 12% to 14%. The increase would bring an additional $700,000 annually to the City’s general fund.

“We’re somewhere between surviving and thriving, and we need to get closer to thriving,” Stone said.

One of the most important funding problems in the future is the underfunding of state tax revenues. City staff expressed concern that California is currently underfunding property taxes instead of vehicle registration fees. A recent state budget estimate uses funding from increased education revenue to fill the gap in vehicle registration fees. The ERAF is the excess local property taxes returned by the state after local school districts have been fully funded to prescribed funding levels.

A staff report says ERAF funds are already owed to towns like Belmont and are instead being used to pay a separate state obligation. The council said this is a long-term problem and is seeking to regain local control over local revenue streams.

Residents said street repairs, emergency response, crime prevention, parks and public works were key priorities in the 2023 budget. The city has prioritized hiring more municipal workers, developing diversity and equity programs, funding street improvements and funding public safety. Hurt wants to look at a climate or carbon budget in the 2024 cycle, looking at what it takes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in buildings and other areas.

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