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City of Santa Maria dips into reserves to cover budget deficit

Santa Maria City Hall.
John Margolies Roadside America photograph archive (1972-2008), Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.
Santa Maria City Hall.

The City of Santa Maria will use three reserves to balance its budget. The new budget proposal projects shortfalls of more than $40 million over the next two years.

Santa Maria spokesperson Mark van de Kamp said department directors must now decide what to cut.

“There are only potentials right now, and those could range from delaying some of the capital projects or maybe not filling some of our open positions,” Van de Kamp said.

According to Van de Kamp, the city’s budget is running low for several reasons: staffing costs, inflation, and tax revenue not keeping up.

The budget will empty the General Fund reserves and Measure U reserves, and leave $2.2 million in the Local Economic Augmentation Fund. Van de Kamp said the city can’t afford to dip into its reserves any further.

“There could be a disaster that faces the region, and we would need to draw upon those reserves, so we're looking at a very significant challenge in our budget,” Van de Kamp said.

The total $364 million budget for fiscal year 2024-25 begins July 1.

KCBX Reporter Amanda Wernik graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a BS in Journalism. Amanda is currently a fellow with the USC Center for Health Journalism, completing a data fellowship that will result in a news feature series to air on KCBX in the winter of 2024.
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