San Jacinto City Council accepts favorable year-end audit report

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The San Jacinto City Council with little discussion Tuesday, March 3, accepted and filed a year-end favorable financial audit presented by the audit firm of Rogers, Anderson, Malody and Scott.

Scott Mano from RAMS in his audit report told the full council, “Several years after ‘the Great Recession,’ the city has seen some very positive signs. Residential development and home sales have increased dramatically to its best numbers in a decade. Commercial development has returned as well, with subsequent years of several projects scheduled to open.

“The city’s ordinances on marijuana cultivation were loosened and still hope to add much needed revenues, which in turn will fund additional public safety staffing. Public safety costs still continue to increase, although with a new cost-minded county sheriff, hopefully those increases will not be unsustainable,” Mano said.

His report explained.

“The city continues to focus on potential commercial growth, bringing the businesses necessary for the residents of the city. The general fund budget for 2019-2020 appropriates $24,629,844 in operating and capital expenditures, an increase of 4.6% from the prior year, primarily due to public safety costs,” according to the audit firm’s report. “City utility rates for water were last increased by 5% in July 2009, and sewer rates were increased 3% in July 2011; however, a rate study for both will be completed in fiscal year 2019-2020. In March 2014, the city’s solid waste enterprise was taken over by the franchised operator.

“In April 2018, the city started operations as a Community Choice Aggregation, providing its citizens and businesses with an alternative to the major electric utility for electricity generation, with a greater focus on renewable energy sources at a discounted rate. Fiscal year 2018-2019 was the first full year of implementation.

“Total assets and deferred outflows of resources of the city exceeded its liabilities and deferred inflows of resources at the close of the most recent fiscal year by $150,223,313 (net position). Of this amount, $10,042,727 represents unrestricted net position, which may be used to meet the government’s ongoing obligations to citizens and creditors.

“The city’s total net position increased by $1,349,807 from the prior fiscal year mainly due to increased program revenues. At the close of the current fiscal year, the city’s governmental funds reported combined fund balances of $36,348,520, an increase of $205,897 in comparison with the prior year.

“Approximately 9.2% of this amount or $3,351,142 is available for spending at the government’s discretion as an unassigned fund balance. At the end of the current fiscal year, unrestricted fund balance (the total of the unassigned components of fund balance) for the general fund was $7,124,883, or approximately 34.1% of total general fund expenditures,” according to the audit firm’s report.

In other business, the council announced Michael Heath, a sergeant with the Riverside County Sheriff attached to the San Jacinto station, has been selected to serve on the city’s planning commission.

Councilmember Joel Lopez and Mayor Pro Tem Crystal Ruiz, who were assigned by council to interview the six final candidates, said they were surprised that Heath “was so knowledgeable about city planning.”

Heath, a resident of San Jacinto, attends many of the regular city council meetings and has kept abreast of the city’s many planned projects. He replaces the term on the commission left by Leslie Moore.

City Manager Rob Johnson gave an update on the past month’s city staff activities highlighted by the announcement that the Planning Division has been working with local builder DR Horton who seeks to develop 67 vacant lots off Caminos Los Banos in the eastern portion of the city. The housing project, called Pleasant Run, originally had 91 lots with 24 homes that were built previously. The project includes the improvement of a 2.27-acre park and detention basin.

He said that the application for a $2.1 million Proposition 68 Statewide park Development and Community Revitalization for Salle Park improvements had been rejected, adding that the rejection letter suggested the city could still reapply for the grant in its Round 4 allocation, which have not been established yet.

Before applying for the grant, the city staff, including Rene Yarnall and Cynthia Espinoza, contacted many residents who found favor in improving the park with a multipurpose field, new restrooms, a splash pond for children and other improvements.

He said Urban Futures Inc., which is contracted by the city, is finishing up the 10-year financial model that will guide the city’s financial future, determine the feasibility of a Vosburg Civic Center at the old historic Vosburg hotel site, determine the city’s ability to add more police officers and its ability to purchase a new fire engine and add a four-man crew.

A city fire chief and Cal Fire battalion chief at the meeting interjected, “We really need that engine and crew.”

Tony Ault can be reached by email at tault@reedermedia.com.