The City of Escondido adopts its budget each June for the following fiscal year, which runs from July 1 to June 30. The budget, while a financial document, is also an important policy document, outlining the City Council’s priorities for the upcoming year and showing where the City's funds will be allocated. The Operating Budget
projects short-term revenue and expenditures related to providing day-to-day services. A separate Capital Improvement Project Budget
projects long-term revenue and expenditures for major projects such as roads, park improvements, and pipelines.
The budget process begins around December each year; the City Manager and Finance staff meet to develop the assumptions, guidelines, and schedules to be used in the preparation of the operating budget. The Finance Department provides a budget newsletter to each department, which includes information such as:
The City’s current fiscal situation: Current revenue constraints and economic or community conditions
Council priorities for the upcoming year
Changes affecting the cost of employee wages and benefits
Instructions and due dates for completing budget submissions
The City’s operating budget provides a plan for how the monies coming into the City (revenues) will be spent in order to operate and maintain City functions and services, such as police, fire, parks, and libraries. The General Fund is the chief operating fund of the City and accounts for all financial
resources except those required to be accounted for in another fund. The City spends 76% of its General Fund departmental budget on public safety, and the remaining on services such as parks, libraries, public works, and general government services. City services require people to provide them, and as a result 85% of the City’s costs are personnel costs.
Core City services funded through the General Fund’s budget are supported by a variety of revenue sources. The four major General Fund revenues are sales tax, property tax, and other taxes which includes transient occupancy tax, business license tax, and franchise fees. Combined these revenues account for 81% of the General Fund’s revenue.
Fiscal Year 2021/22 Budget Adoption
On May 12, 2021, City Council was presented with the Fiscal Year 2021/22 Preliminary Operating Budget Status report. Certain significant budget changes were discussed during the briefing and have been incorporated in the proposed operating budget to reflect the increased demand for City services around traffic safety and homelessness, and hence reflect City priorities.
The budget includes a multi-faceted strategy to improve traffic flow and safety throughout the City by providing additional resources to the Engineering, Police, and Public Works department budgets. In order to address the challenges and demands for service and implement the City’s strategy for addressing homelessness, the budget provides the additional staff and resources necessary for essential services such as homeless encampment clean-up, patrolling hotspots, and removing refuse, to be provided seven-days per week. The budget also restores three police officer positions to the Community Oriented Policing and Problem Solving (COPPS) Unit to provide a more effective, efficient and consistent level of service by increasing coverage and proactivity to further the City’s approach for addressing the community impacts of homelessness while being sensitive to the importance of tackling underlying causes and helping people.
To maintain a balanced budget and yet continue an appropriate level of service and address City priorities, the Fiscal Year 2021/22 budget the final one-time source of funds from the Successor Agency Redevelopment Loan repayment of $2.2 million and a transfer from the Section 115 Pension Trust Fund of $6.1 million. Since at least 2017, the City has maintained balance as a result of modest economic growth and stability and a combined strategy of a hardline on expenditures, cost saving measures that included reducing staff, deferring infrastructure maintenance, investing in technology to reduce ongoing costs, and outsourcing services. However, until revenue is increased on an ongoing and structural basis, the City must continue to rely on short-term, one-time resources to continue operations and avoid drastic cuts to City services.