One of the pillars of good government – particularly for cities – is fiscal responsibility. This is one of our long-held values in Rohnert Park. We recognize that you entrust us to manage thoughtfully the money you provide through taxes and fees. We regularly ask ourselves what is in the best long-term interest of the residents of Rohnert Park when we make decisions and that applies to the budget as much as anything else.
The most important way to practice responsibility is by balancing our budget every year. I’m pleased to let you know that the city council has approved a balanced preliminary operating budget for the fiscal year that starts on July 1. We anticipate final approval in June. This represents the eighth consecutive year in which our revenues and expenditures are in balance.
I’d like to share some budget highlights with you here. First, on the revenue side, we anticipate that sales and property taxes will remain strong as they have even with the pandemic. We also anticipate a partial rebound in hotel taxes, which were at historic highs before the pandemic.
I also want to recognize that the Casino has consistently met its obligations to provide funding to mitigate its impact on our community; we anticipate receiving nearly $15 million from the Casino. These funds pay for enforcement of traffic rules, improving the flow of traffic, and investments such as increased grants to our non-profit organizations which add so much to the community.
On the spending side, highlights include continued funding for our streets and roads that will continue improvements and help address the traffic concerns we often hear about. We will continue to maintain our parks, buildings and other facilities in good condition. The city council approved $1 million for a new program that will provide social work and medical expertise to respond to some calls now handled by Public Safety Officers because there are no alternatives; We’ll share more on this in a later column.
The city council has made climate change a priority, and has allocated funds to help us build on a resolution adopted earlier this year that demonstrated the city’s support to do more to address this crucial challenge.
Homelessness is another challenging issue we often hear about. We are adding significant funding to pay for increased outreach to those experiencing homelessness, which will help connect them to services and housing. We will also increase our funding for permanent housing, which is the ultimate solution to homelessness, particularly when paired with mental health or other support needed by the most vulnerable.
As a further example of fiscal responsibility, the city council approved funds to reduce our future liabilities for pensions. This is similar to pre-paying your mortgage in that paying more now frees up funds for additional services.
I appreciate your on-going interest in what we’re doing in Rohnert Park. You can find out more about our budget and all city business on our website.