Have you ever wondered how a road project is funded and why one project is being done when another is seemingly needed more? Government financing (or lack of!) is complex. The City receives its money through a variety of sources and some of these sources (such as Measure A funds) have restrictions on their use.
A large pot of money, called the general fund, is comprised of funds that can be used to pay for basic services, special projects and a host of other things. The City Council sets priorities and makes choices on how to spend this money during each budget cycle. The designated or “restricted” funds can only legally be spent on a designated type of project or for a specific use.
For example, in 2011-12, the City of Goleta received $24,000 in developer impact fees for library facilities also known as DIF fees. These fees can only be used for things like library facility improvements or book collection acquisitions. So even though the City Council has expressed a desire to fund a recreation department, it cannot do so with these fees.
Another example of restricted monies are Measure A funds. These monies are collected through our local sales tax and can only be used for transportation projects,such as the City’s annual street maintenance program and the Los Carneros Roundabout.
Grant funding is a third example of money that has a restricted use. The City actively seeks grant funding for its projects and has received grants for the San Jose Creek Capacity Improvement Project, the traffic signal at the intersection of Fairview Avenue and Berkeley Road, the construction of the new park in Old Town, and for many other projects. In this fiscal year, the City expects to see over $2 million in grants.
Finally, general fund monies can be used for any public purpose. This year, approximately 40% of the City’s budget is expected to come in the form of restricted funds. If Measure H passes, the City is expected to receive an additional $900,000 annually in general fund revenue from transient occupancy taxes.
One of the most important jobs the City Council has is setting a budget. The choices are often very tough to make because of the many important and worthy goals and priorities the Council has set. However it’s important to understand that each pot of money is different and that funding is limited.