What are West Hollywood’s budget priorities for 2017?
The City of West Hollywood has proposed a $127 million budget for fiscal year 2017, which runs from July 1 to next June 30. That’s $3,540 per resident. In this article, we’ll explore what the numbers themselves tell us about West Hollywood’s budget priorities.
The budget includes $114 million for operations and $13 million in capital projects. Capital projects involve buying, building, or repairing major assets. For example, one capital project involves renovations at the newly purchased Coast Playhouse.
Proposed budget by category
The biggest category of spending will continue to be contracted services, such as policing by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Contracted services represent 44% of the proposed budget and close to $1,600 per resident. 28%, or $1,000 per resident, will go to wages and benefits for City staff members. Capital projects and payments on the City’s debt are each about 10% of the proposed budget, or about $350 per resident. The rest, about $250 per resident, will be spent on other operating costs.
West Hollywood’s budget priorities based on increases by category
The proposed budget is 13% bigger than the prior year. The increase is driven by capital projects, which will grow 126%. That suggests that capital projects are a big part of West Hollywood’s budget priorities for FY2017.
Many capital projects are one-time investments, so higher spending in one year won’t necessarily continue. In fact, the budget anticipates that capital spending will drop back to $160 or so per resident in FY2018 after jumping above $360 per resident in FY2017.
The proposed budget also includes a 7% increase in spending for operations. That includes 10% growth in contracted services and 6% more for wages and benefits.
For comparison, the proposed budget for the following year has a 2% increase in the operating budget versus FY2017 and a 4% decrease overall because of lower capital spending. Those amounts may be adjusted later.
West Hollywood’s budget priorities based on increases by division
The City staff is organized into divisions. Each division is responsible for delivering particular City services, either to the public (e.g., parking) or to other divisions (e.g., human resources). West Hollywood’s budget priorities can be seen in the distribution of money among divisions.
The chart below shows the 10 divisions with the biggest dollar increases per resident.
Facilities & Field Services is getting almost $100 extra per resident to renovate the Coast Playhouse ($2.9 million) and another City building ($700,000).
The City Engineer’s budget will increase $87 per resident. The City is buying all the streetlights from their current owner, Southern California Edison ($2.6 million). The increase will also pay for new traffic signals for pedestrian safety at crosswalks on Santa Monica Boulevard ($850,000). A smaller amount will be used to hire another engineer.
The Social Services division, which handles all of the City’s transit services, is getting $58 more per resident. That will pay for new CityLine and Dial-a-Ride transit vehicles, the continuation of the CityLineX rush-hour express service to Hollywood, and an additional social services administrator.
The Parking division is getting the fourth biggest increase, mainly to pay for a new parking lot ($700,000) at the corner of Santa Monica and Crescent Heights.
At the other end of the spectrum, some divisions will have budget decreases in FY2017. The decreases are big for the City Council division and the Assistant City Manager’s division. We assume that is due to personnel changes. There are smaller cuts versus FY2016 for Information Technology and Legal Services & Legislative Affairs.
Other ways of measuring budget priorities
After looking at West Hollywood’s budget priorities based on dollar increases, we wondered if the answer would change if we used different measures. We tried the percentage increase and total dollars per resident.
For example, Police & Protective Services has the largest budget by far (not counting transfers among City funds). It’s about $525 per resident. But the proposed increase of $31 per resident ranks sixth among divisions. The increase in percentage terms (6%) is the 18th biggest.
When we combined the ranks for all three methods, the following divisions came out as priorities: Facilities & Field Services, City Engineering, Social Services (plus transit), Parking, Revenue Management, Public Safety Administration, Police & Protective Services, Long Range & Mobility Planning, Arts & Economic Development, and Special Events. That’s the same 10 divisions that came out on top in the chart above. They’re even in similar order.
The table below shows numbers for every division: proposed FY2017 dollar increase per resident, the percentage increase, and the total dollars per resident. You can scroll through the list using the scrollbars on the right and at the bottom. You can sort the list by clicking on a column heading.
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