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City Survey Gauges Community Priorities
By Lookout Staff
February 12, 2021 -- Santa Monica residents, business owners and workers have until the end of the month to weigh in on the community priorities that will inform the budget for the next two fiscal years.
The priorities will be established by the City Council at its March 13 meeting and will guide the City as it recovers from the "economic and civic disruption" caused by the cornonavirus shutdown.
The results of the short survey -- available in English and Spanish -- will be reviewed by the Council as it begins deliberating the budget it will adopt in June 2021.
“As Santa Monica joins other communities in confronting the most significant economic crisis since the Great Depression, it is more important than ever for every voice to be heard,” said Interim City Manager Lane Dilg.
The survey will help the Council prioritize reopening services and programs as funding becomes available" and "inform City operations and policymaking," City officials said.
It also will ensure the City "shares information on what matters most to the community."
Among the priorities listed in the survey are "affordability," "business diversity," "disaster preparedness," "equity and inclusion," keeping neighborhoods safe" and reducing homelessness.
Last summer, the City Council took drastic measures to bridge a projected $150 million deficit fueled by a shutdown that choked the city's key revenue streams ("City Council Slashes Up to 247 Full-time Jobs; Cuts Will Be Felt at All Levels," May 6, 2020).
The Council voted to quickly lay off as many as 247 full-time employees, resulting in sweeping cuts to programs and services.
It also set aside a $20 million Shutdown Reserve fund in advance of a "second COVID surge and economic shutdown."
Last month, City officials reported that despite the deep cuts, Santa Monica's crippled economy had pushed the City's current budget into the red, forcing the City to use $14.6 million of the reserve.
Officials also warned that the local economy is not expected to fully recover for at least another four years ("City to Dip Into Emergency Reserves as Economic Downturn to Last Until 2025," January 21, 2021).
As part of the City's Mid-Year Budget, the Council approved "additional resources to respond to immediate needs," officials said.
These included addressing homelessness, increasing code enforcement resources for health-related issues and creating a 3-1-1 service line to "improve resident response and services."
The Council also voted to support non-profit eviction counseling for residents at risk of losing their homes, fund additional Library page service and hire an Inspector General to support the work of the City’s new Public Safety Reform and Oversight Commission.
For more information and to complete the short survey click here. For assistance taking the survey, contact (310) 458-8400.
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