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Woodlake’s preliminary budget projects over half million dollar increase to the general fund largely due to sales tax and cannabis tax measures

Woodlake’s preliminary budget projects over half million dollar increase to the general fund largely due to sales tax and cannabis tax measures

By Paul Myers @PaulM_SGN

WOODLAKE – Woodlake’s budgetary woes have been well documented. In 2010 the City’s general fund faced a massive $425,000 deficit followed by an even larger $432,000 shortfall in 2012. The City’s last general fund deficit was 2014 when they were $215,000 in the hole. But over the last four years they have turned deficits into surpluses and pitfalls into hearty reserves.

Last week Woodlake city staff revealed their preliminary budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. City administrator Ramon Lara and director of community development Jason Waters are projecting a massive increase to the City’s general fund budget. In the 2017-2018 general fund budget Woodlake projected a total revenue of $2,278,043, this year they expect a total of $2,790,500. 

Lara says the $512,457 increase is due to the 1% sales tax increase in November of last year and the $100,000 the City expects to haul in from cannabis sales in the City. Of which Valley Pure, the dispensary located in Woodlake’s downtown, is a couple months away from opening. Meanwhile, Green Bean Pharm located on Naranjo west of Valencia Boulevard, is presumably months away from opening despite their ambitious February deadline they announced last year. 

With their new found revenue expected to roll in throughout the year, Woodlake plans to start spending it on some projects that have been long overdue. For starters they are excited to add an officer to their police force, which has been needy for manpower over the last few years. Other than that the City will be putting in some new playground equipment at the park for the Valencia Heights project on the north side of downtown. They will also be adding some playground equipment to the Alsumiri Park on the east side of town. And both places will have a new arbor.

Even with the additional spending set to put general fund revenues at $2.7 million, Woodlake projects to increase their reserves from $576,330 to $666,164; almost 25% of general fund levels. 

“We still have a ways to go, but we’re making good progress,” Lara says. 

According to Lara a sufficient reserve is nothing short of a full year’s worth of operating capital; albeit most cities work to keep 25% of a full year’s budget on hand for economic downturns. 

“Our next goal is six months of reserves, but it’s not something that happens over night,” Lara added.

If passed as is, this will be the first year since Lara has been the city administrator Woodlake will have every fund in the black. Most funds have been in the positive for at least one year, but last year the lone fund to be left in the red was the airport. This year the City expects to generate $71,000 in revenue to $34,244 in expenses. 

“Assuming nothing comes up or happens, this is the year,” Lara said.

The City maintains the airport, and generates revenue from the airport through the leasing of hangars, rent from the restaurant and fuel sales. Waters and Lara said they would have probably gotten to solvency faster had it not been for a busted fuel tank the City had to replace two years ago. And as far as improvements go, the City is not putting the airport at the top of their list.

Last year Woodlake spent grant money to identify the full scope of everything that needed to be done to bring it up to Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) standards. Waters and Lara added the FAA will guide them on what type of grants to seek out and when in order to fund repairs, but they have not hear back from the Authority since the initial report was sent. 

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