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By Breeana Greenberg

At the close of the 2021-22 fiscal year, the City of Dana Point saw a surplus of $10.5 million that it will use to fund community-related and capital improvement projects.

The City Council on Tuesday, Sept. 20, voted unanimously to allocate $4.1 million of the surplus to the Community Investment Account, $2 million to fund the public employee retirement plan and $550,000 to address cash flow issues with the city’s free trolley program.

Though the city said revenue in the 2022 fiscal year was better than anticipated and staff anticipates the 2023 fiscal year will continue to be strong, it warned that “rising inflation and potential slowing of the economy may decelerate growth” as the fiscal year proceeds.

To address an uncertain economy, staff recommended holding on to roughly $1.25 million in the unassigned fund.

“Projections for the future of the economy has been uncertain right now,” Finance Manager Sea Shelton said. “Right now, we’re dealing with historically high inflation, stock markets have been crazy right now, trying to figure out what’s going on.”

Staff recommended returning to the council in the spring to discuss the economy, the city’s finances, and decide on allocating the extra funding.

Because the city isn’t expected to receive grant funding from the Orange County Transportation Authority to operate its free trolleys until after the program ends, staff recommended that the City Council front the account with $550,000 in surplus funds.

Once the city receives the grant funding, it will repay the $550,000 to the General Fund along with accrued investment interest.

Another $2 million of the surplus is being allocated for the California Public Employees’ Retirement System unfunded liability, a pension and retirement plan.

The remaining $4.1 million will be put into the Community Investment Account for future projects, bringing the account balance to approximately $15.1 million. Funds in the account are used to support one-time projects that benefit the community.

Since June, public works staff has gone through a list of projects to determine which of them are priorities based on the council’s recommendation, City Manager Mike Killebrew explained.

“We plan on bringing it back to council; you’re going to decide on which projects to move to the top of the list,” Killebrew said. “It’s just a matter of getting the available resources ready to go and obviously the money, but we’re starting to lean into the next phase of actually spending the Community Investment Account, or what I’ve always referred to as the hopes and dreams account, on one-time investments, on capital investments.”

Breeana Greenberg

Breeana Greenberg is the city reporter for the Dana Point Times. She graduated from Chapman University with a bachelor of arts degree in English. Before joining Picket Fence Media, she worked as a freelance reporter with the Laguna Beach Independent. Breeana can be reached by email at bgreenberg@picketfencemedia.com

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