Message from the Mayor : State of the City Budget

mike-headshot.jpgBy Michael Noll, Signal Hill Mayor

The Signal Hill City Council and staff take great pride in preparing a balanced budget. Our fiscal year 2008-2009 budget was one of the more challenging budgets that I have faced as mayor during my last 16 years on the City Council. The City Council adopted a balanced $33.2 million operating and capital budget in June.
Signal Hill is not immune to the national and regional economic downturn, and we needed to adjust our budget accordingly. The economic forces impacting the city are the mortgage crisis, rapid drop-off in residential construction, slower retail activity, and the State of California’s estimated $17-billion budget shortfall. State officials have taken a page from their old playbook and are proposing to “borrow” funds from the local cities and redevelopment agencies to solve their budget deficits.
This year we followed strict cost containment requirements, and expenditures were capped at last year’s level for non-salary expenditures. In the General Fund, the overall percentage increase in the budget is a mere 1.98 percent for salaries, benefits, maintenance, and operations compared to the prior year’s budget. We also relied on very conservative revenue forecasts and approved very few additional requested items. For example, only one additional staff person was approved- an upgrade from a part-time police record clerk to a full-time clerk position. We felt this upgrade was justified by the additional work generated by the six new police officers added to our department in the last three years. This upgrade brings the number of full-time employees to 109.
The major budget highlight is our $25.8 million capital improvement program. This is one of the largest capital improvement programs in the history of the city. The major project will be the construction of the new Signal Hill Police Station, estimated to cost $16 million. This project will be funded by the Signal Hill Redevelopment Agency. Over $8.1 million in projects are funded through grants. The largest grant-funded project is the widening of Cherry Avenue at Pacific Coast Highway.
Other capital improvement projects planned for this budget year include the City Hall elevator, Lewis Avenue storm drain, Burnett Street improvements, Well #9 pump/treatment design, Gundry reservoir, pavement management, general right-of-way repairs, Signal Hill Park restrooms, Library building design consultant, and many more.
As part of our budget process, staff has provided a five-year forecast to assess increases in both revenues and expenditures in future budgets. We expect to end the next five years within the same fund balance range of $4.5 million in the General Fund. The city and Agency budget document is posted on the city’s website at

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