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Rent Board to Review $5.3 Million Budget for Upcoming Fiscal Year

Bob Kronovetrealty
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Santa Monica Convention and Visitors

By Jorge Casuso

May 3, 2019 -- The Santa Monica Rent Control Board next week will review a proposed $5.3 million operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year that deviates little from the current budget.

The proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 calls for nearly $5.179 in operating expenses and revenues totaling nearly $5.312 million, resulting in a surplus of some $133,000, according to staff.

Most of the money -- $4.436 million -- will be spent on salaries and wages for 24 full-time workers, with $62,512 set aside for "as-needed employees."

That represents a reduction of one permanent position from the previous year, according to staff. The adjustment will be made by leaving a position vacant.

The proposed budget also pays the City of Santa Monica $50,267 to cover the Rent Board's share of a $45 million dollar paydown the City made toward its unfunded pension liability in 2017.

The board could also make a potential paydown of $90,807 if the City Council approves a plan to pay its approximately $448 million unfunded liability over 13 years instead of 30 ("City Should Immediately Boost Annual Pension Payments," April 23, 2019).

"The Agency’s projected revenue for FY 19/20 provides sufficient funds to cover this cost," staff wrote in its report to the Rent Board.

Unlike the City's budget -- which is largely based on projected revenues from taxes and fees -- the Rent Board's revenues can be much more accurately predicted.

The proposed budget is based on a $198 per unit annual registration
fee for the 26,425 billable units on Santa Monica's rent control rolls, officials said.

The fee was increased in 2017 from the $174.96 per unit fee set in Fiscal Year 2013-14, staff said.

In addition to salaries, the proposed budget includes $694,293 in supplies and expenses, $48,500 in capital expenses and $50,000 for legal expenses.

A total of $279,357 for database replacement that was approved as part of last year's budget will be paid from the agency's fund balance.

At its meeting May 9, the Board also will discuss a 2 percent annual general adjustment with a possible cap that would take effect September 1.

The Board will hold a public hearing June 13 to set the final amount.

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