Newport Beach City Council Approves Balanced Annual Budget, Restores Capital Improvement Projects

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The City Council on Tuesday, June 8 approved a balanced, $309.1 million operating budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year that restores cutbacks made in the prior fiscal year due to anticipated COVID-19 revenue losses.

According to information provided by the city, Newport Beach has seen continued strength in its property tax revenues, and faster-than-expected growth in sales tax and transient occupancy tax revenues as travel and consumer spending begins to recover.

While the City’s overall revenues have not returned to the pre-pandemic trend, they are on a strong trajectory to recover in the year ahead. As a result, the City has balanced its budget and will contribute to reserves, pay down unfunded pension liabilities, and restore neighborhood improvement projects that were delayed because of COVID-19.

The capital improvement budget calls for $74.8 million in new spending for fiscal year 2021-22, with capital spending of $195.9 million proposed over the next six years. Capital projects include street and roadway construction and maintenance, bay and beach improvements, storm drains, parks, municipal facilities, water and wastewater projects, and other projects.

The City is taking a cautious approach to budgeting as the pace of pandemic recovery is still uncertain. While the budget includes funding for projects related to homelessness and state-mandated programs such as organics recycling, it limits workforce growth, adding only two new full-time positions to bring City’s full-time workforce to 730.

The City’s fiscally conservative budgeting in prior years – building reserves, managing debt, decreasing City pension costs and more – helped Newport Beach weather the pandemic and set the stage for a stronger recovery, officials said. Also, in the early stages of the pandemic, the City instituted a hiring freeze for non-safety positions, cut department spending and delayed capital projects that were not immediately essential to the continued operations of the City.

Overall, the City’s finances are on solid footing after a highly uncertain year, said Councilman Will O’Neill, who chairs the City’s Finance Committee.

“Despite the extraordinary setbacks experienced in 2020, our City’s government ensured that services people expected remained in our budget,” O’Neill said. “Not all cities can say the same. This budget continues to provide a high level of services to our residents and lays a foundation that will facilitate a great city for our children and grandchildren.”

Highlights of the FY 2021-22 budget include:

  • Restores $15.4 million that had been cut from facilities, harbor capital projects and neighborhood enhancement projects in the previous fiscal year.
  • Maintains a strong budget reserve of $55.3 million, about 25% of the City’s general fund operating budget.
  • Continues to reduce unfunded pension liabilities through additional discretionary payments to the CalPERS retirement system.
  • Supports additional beach cleanup efforts put in place during COVID-19 and the Boardwalk Ambassador program.
  • Provides funding for Newport Beach’s continued partnership in the new Costa Mesa homeless shelter, and $1 million toward a permanent supportive housing project in Newport Beach.

The budget will be reviewed by the City Council after the first quarter of the new fiscal year.

For more on the City budget, please visit:

https://www.newportbeachca.gov/government/departments/finance/city-budget-salary.

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