Imperial Beach's 2024 and 2025 budgets would invest more in recreation, personnel

Imperial Beach’s proposed fiscal year 2024 budget would boost spending by more than $2.5 million and invest most of it in the newly established Parks and Recreation Department.

Children enjoy playing at the Imperial Beach Sports Park in 2021. ((Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune))

© Provided by San Diego Union Tribune
Children enjoy playing at the Imperial Beach Sports Park in 2021. ((Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune))

The city typically adopts a biennial spending plan. This July, the 2024 budget proposes a $28.7 million general fund, which finances the municipality’s daily and long-term operations. The 2025 budget is projected at $29.6 million.


Load Error

Multiple factors contribute to the anticipated hike in spending, said Joann Gitmed, the city’s finance director.

One of them is the rising costs of law enforcement services, which the city obtains via a contract with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. Imperial Beach anticipates spending $8.6 million in 2024, a 2 percent hike over the current fiscal year. The increase is due to the city providing Mar Vista High School a full-time, onsite school resource officer, which it did not have, in exchange for public use of the school’s new swimming pool. The position will cost the city $270,000 per year. In 2025, the Sheriff’s budget, which is the city’s largest expense, is expected to jump to $8.9 million. The Sheriff’s five-year contract, which includes eight other cities, runs through July 2027.

According to the proposed budget, the fire department is projected to see its current $3 million budget jump to $3.3 million in the upcoming year and $3.6 million the following year. The department would add a division chief, inspector and new equipment.

The city is also looking to add more than 10 other staff positions across various departments, including a building and planning technician and geographic information systems intern under its Community Development Department, three Public Works maintenance workers and seven positions under its Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department.

Imperial Beach dissolved its recreation department in 2014 due to budget cuts. It wanted to rebuild it but kept holding off due to ever-increasing costs to fund its law enforcement contract. Just over a year ago, the city managed to restart the department with grants, federal stimulus dollars, $1 million from its general fund and more than $350,000 in revenue from Measure I, the one-cent sales tax for essential city services.

In 2024, the Parks and Rec expenditures are projected to jump from $1.2 million to $2.5 million with the addition of several new community programs and personnel that will be tasked with carrying them forward. The department has a long list of goals, including managing the new Mar Vista pool, implementing a citywide volunteer program, expanding the park ranger program to include nights and weekends, developing a youth committee, increasing and neighborhood senior services and bringing more park programming.

The city’s general fund revenues are also steadily increasing, with an anticipated $28.7 million in 2024 and $29.7 million the following year. The fund’s $15 million in tax revenues would jump to $19.3 million in the upcoming year, according to the draft budget.

There are few areas for creating new revenue sources. Mayor Paloma Aguirre suggested the city consider increasing its cannabis licenses from one to two, which would be permissible under the city ordinance. Imperial Beach’s lone storefront has brought in about $1 million in revenue, she added.

Below is a breakdown of where Imperial Beach will spend its $28.7 million in 2024 and $29.6 million in 2025, respectively:

  • $8.6 million and $8.9 million for sheriff’s;
  • $3.3 million and $3.6 million for fire;
  • $2.9 million and $3.1 million for non-departmental;
  • $1.8 million in both years for marine safety;
  • $1.3 million and $1.2 million for street department;
  • $1.08 million and $1.06 million for finance;
  • $1.06 million and $1.12 million for tidelands maintenance;
  • $799,300 and $822,600 for park maintenance;
  • $750,800 and $717,300 for city manager’s office;
  • $720,700 and $749,900 for recreation;
  • $695,700 and $658,600 for community development;
  • $645,600 and $683,200 for building and housing inspection;
  • $643,500 and $679,500 for facilities maintenance;
  • $534,700 and $586,00 for city clerk’s office;
  • $533,000 and $531,400 for public works administration;
  • $468,400 and $539,900 for storm drainage;
  • $417,900 and $403,200 for human resources;
  • $414,600 and $434,900 for community and neighborhood services;
  • $381,900 and $299,500 for animal control;
  • $317,200 and $338,500 for city council;
  • $283,400 and $295,600 for pool operations;
  • $270,300 and $281,700 for community events and art;
  • $233,000 and $231,000 for city attorney’s office;
  • $178,600 and $188,300 for code compliance;
  • $147,600 and $115,700 for solid waste management;
  • $83,300 and $85,700 for senior services;
  • $23,100 and $24,000 for junior lifeguards;

The City Council will consider adopting the budgets May 17.

This story originally appeared in San Diego Union-Tribune.

Continue Reading