The City of San Juan Capistrano is on track to spend $2 million to renovate the San Juan Capistrano Sports Park as the grass is in rough shape because of frequent use by youth sports leagues and community groups, including the Rotary Club’s annual car show.
The sports park upgrade is factored into the city’s upcoming 2023-24 Fiscal Year budget, which the City Council again reviewed on Tuesday, May 16. The council and staff previously held an initial budget workshop on May 2.
The renovation will include new turf and park lighting.
Other plans for FY 2024 include a new deputy patrol for the downtown area at $307,000, a full-time community outreach worker who would interface with homeless people for an initial five-year period at an annual cost of $149,000, and paving for the Los Rios Park parking lot at $400,00.
For a five-year period, the Boys & Girls Club of Capistrano Valley is budged to receive an annual rate of $103,000 from the city, up $25,000 the club receives compared to the current fiscal year.
According to a draft of the budget, the city expects to receive approximately $40 million in General Fund revenues and is budgeting $37 million in operating expenditures for FY 2024.
In comparison, the city’s anticipated revenues and planned expenditures for the current fiscal year were budgeted at $37 million and $34 million, respectively, when the City Council approved the 2022-23 Fiscal Year budget last year.
The City Council unanimously approved staff recommendations on moving forward with the budget, which is expected to be adopted by June 30, the end of the current fiscal year.
Councilmembers made several suggestions for items to fund or look into during the May 2 workshop, which City Manager Ben Siegel and other staff members addressed on Tuesday—including Councilmember Troy Bourne’s suggestion that landscaping be enhanced along Paseo Adelanto, adjacent to Trabuco Creek, because the nearby River Street Marketplace is coming in.
“There’s certainly opportunities to beautify that area, especially as we expect more visitation in that area,” Siegel said. “The challenge is that is not city property. That’s Orange County Flood Control District property. Anything the council wants to do would require their approval and any permitting associated with that. We’d like to start conversations with Flood Control and see if they’re even open to that discussion.”
City staff can also reach out to the Capistrano Unified School District after parents asked for help regarding concerns about school safety, particularly about the availability of school resource officers, during the previous workshop, Siegel said.
Councilmember suggestions to enhance trail signage and connectivity and replacing playground equipment at Bonita Park are matters that can be referred to the Parks, Equestrian, and Community Services Commission, Siegel further said.
“I’d just like to commend staff and the city manager,” Mayor Howard Hart said. “You made an awful lot of sense from stream of consciousness comments made from the dais last council meeting.”
Siegel also addressed the possibility of a parking pass for residents, which some people in the community have been calling for since paid parking has been instituted in downtown lots. Hart also asked about the matter during the first workshop.
“We’d like to explore that further. One of the unique elements of paid parking in San Juan is that on three of the four paid parking lots, they’re actually privately owned,” Siegel said. “There’s an agreement between the owner and city that allows the city to charge for parking and addressed how that is shared and how maintenance is covered, etc.”
The city does not have the ability to automatically institute a pass, but staff can engage the property owners in a discussion about how the pass could work, get their feedback, and lay the foundation for a comprehensive study about parking, Siegel said.
A meaningful study will not cost less than $50,000 and could be more than $100,000, Siegel said.
“It’s something that would require a significant investment of staff time, which we believe is appropriate,” Siegel said.
The city is expected to have a $7.2 million surplus for FY 2024, which begins July 1.
Though the city’s current level of revenues is higher than expenditures, that trend is expected to shift in the future.
“Unfortunately, expenditures are increasing at a rate faster than our revenues,” Siegel said. “For, basically, the next four to five years, we expect revenues to exceed expenditures, but those lines cross about five years from now. … Our best estimate is, five years from now, we will cross into another environment of what I would say (is) a growing structural deficit.”
“That would mean we would have to cut services or spend down the reserve amounts or find a way to increase revenues,” Siegel further said. “Keep in mind the changes the council made several years ago to put us in position of a healthy budget basically involved significant cuts, all the way to where I can say services weren’t affected. I believe further reduction in expenditures would impact city services.”
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