Del Mar approves 2021-22 and 2022-23 budgets

Del Mar City Hall
(Jon Clark)

The Del Mar City Council approved the city’s budgets for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 fiscal years, with projections that show a gradual return to normal after the COVID-19 pandemic forced cutbacks in staff, revenue and infrastructure projects.

The two-year budget shows net increases of $393,800 and $362,780 in fiscal years 2021-22 and 2022- 23, respectively. But interim City Manager Ashley Jones also said during the council’s June 21 meeting that the pandemic has caused an estimated $7.3 million in revenue loss for the city.

“It will take time for the city to recover financially from such a catastrophic loss, and the slow return of economic activity at the fairgrounds continues to be a factor in the city’s overall recovery,” she said.

She mentioned the return of revenue-generating events at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, such as this summer’s month-long Homegrown Fun mini fair and the Breeders’ Cup in the fall.

“We are optimistic that revenue-generating activity will continue to increase over time,” Jones said.

Projections for sales tax revenue during the peak summer months in the 2022 and 2023 fiscal years have been increased to represent 66% and 88%, respectively, of revenue before COVID-19, according to city staff. That would equal increases of $71,000 and $222,000 over those two years.

“These are still conservative projections, which will be reevaluated during the Mid-Year Budget process to determine if additional adjustments are needed,” said the city staff report, written by Jones and Treasurer Monica Molina.

Utility undergrounding was one of the projects that had been put on hold during the pandemic, but the council is moving forward with a small pilot project centered around Tewa Court. The council will also proceed with undergrounding in Area 1A, located along Stratford Court between Fourth and 12th streets, and Area X1A, located in Crest Canyon.

The city also received an allocation of about $800,000 from the most recent coronavirus aid package approved by Congress. According to city staff, that amount has been increased to approximately $1 million, which will be paid in two installments over the current and next fiscal year.

The budget includes annual transfers of $250,000 to the Pension Reserve Fund, $100,000 to the Equipment Reserve Fund, $100,000 to the Housing Reserve Fund, according to a city staff report. It also eliminates the COVID-19 Economic Uncertainty Reserve Fund, which had been created by the council at the beginning of the pandemic. Its $200,000 balance was transferred to the General Fund Contingency.