The San Juan Bautista City Council unanimously adopted its 2020-21 fiscal year budget at its Nov. 17 meeting. The budget includes no salary increases, a 6.8% decrease in expenditures, and one less full-time position.
While councilmembers were happy with the $3.2 million budget, they were less enthusiastic about converting three part-time positions to full-time. After an hour-long discussion, they opted to revisit the changes in the future.
City Manager Don Reynolds said that in response to the pandemic, two existing positions—code enforcer and lead library technician—took on additional responsibilities. A third position—disaster services community liaison—was created and approved at 20 hours per week to support businesses during the pandemic, though Reynolds said the position often requires more than 40 hours.
While Councilman Dan De Vries said the disaster services position made sense at the time it was created, converting it into an economic development position was a luxury San Juan Bautista could not afford at this time.
“To create a new position of economic development coordinator, I just have concerns of how consistent that is with our community being in the throes of this pandemic,” De Vries said. “With sales tax going down, [transient occupancy tax] going down, everything going down, is now the right time to create an economic development position in our tiny town?”
Mayor Mary Edge said she could not justify the new positions, especially with San Benito County returning to the purple tier of California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. Councilman John Freeman recommended revisiting the new positions in January or February.
Resident Jackie Morris-Lopez, who ran for a City Council seat in the Nov. 3 election, said Reynolds was doing a great job and she understood what he was trying to do. However, she also felt the city needed to wait on creating new positions.
“Right now with money being tight and us taking a hit like other cities, large and small, it would be wise to put these decisions on hold,” Morris-Lopez said.
The San Juan Bautista City Council also approved resolutions requesting two grant allocations totalling $204,500 to be used to update housing policies and capital improvement projects.
The first requests $26,581 of the city’s allocation of Regional Early Action Planning (REAP) funds from the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments.
The second allocation of $177,952 from the Natural Resources Agency Department of Parks and Recreation is required to be used to supplement existing project costs or new projects. According to the agenda packet, San Juan Bauitsta has five qualified projects including the Verutti Park restroom construction, the Luck Park master plan, Franklin Park, the Trail Plan and improving the Community Center’s acoustics.
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