By Dennis J. Freeman
INGLEWOOD — Financially, everything seems to be on track for the city of Inglewood. In September, the city manager’s office came out with a projected 2018-19 budget, which was approved by the City Council.
The budget projects revenue of $128.072 million in the general fund, with expenditures estimated at $128.016 million. This will allow the city to operate with a surplus of just over $56 million.
That’s a different tale than the one Inglewood and its residents were dealing with back in 2011 when Mayor James T. Butts was first elected.
At that time, Inglewood was operating with an $18 million budget deficit. In just seven years, Butts has been able to change the trajectory of the city. Last year, Inglewood’s fiscal 2017-18 budget saw the city bring in $148.8 million in revenue while its expenses ran $127.7 million.
“As I like to say, the only thing that has changed in Inglewood is everything,” Butts said in a released statement. “The city’s budget is a clear sign of how our community is thriving. We can continue to expect good things in Inglewood.”
When looking at the breakdown of the city’s expenses for the year, the Inglewood Police Department owns the lion’s share with just over $68 million. Inglewood’s Public Works Department accounts for $59.22 million.
Capital improvement projects make up a $30.1 million slice, followed by Section 8 Housing and community development block grants, which take over $21 million. The city’s Parks, Recreation and Library Services will spend a little more than $12 million.
For Mayor Butts and the Inglewood City Council, their salaries and other expenses cost $1.8 million.
Those numbers differ slightly from the projected general fund layout. The police department is operating at just over $66 million, while Public Works getting close to $12 million to operate, and Recreation, Parks and Community Services making it with $7 million.
The total budget for the city amount runs to nearly $258 million for the 2018-19 fiscal year. The city’s total operating budget comes with a hefty price tag from contracts with the Los Angeles Fire County Fire Department ($14 million), active/retiree health care costs ($14 million), California Public Employees Retirement System ($26 million), and other costs such as special fund expenditures ($33 million), propriety funds ($26 million), and water enterprise fund ($23 million).
The elephant in the room are the chief sources of revenues for the city. Of course, it’s not the Los Angeles Stadium & Entertainment District at Hollywood Park, since it’s still under construction and won’t start to begin making money for the city until 2020. Four items account for nearly 50 percent of the city’s general revenue stream. Property taxes, utility users taxes, sales and use taxes, and motor vehicle taxes account for 47 percent of the city’s money.
Property taxes are expected to bring in $18.2 million, an increase over the $17.7 million accumulated from the 2017-18 fiscal year. For the 2013-14 fiscal year, that number was $15.3 million, an increase of 18.8 percent.
The biggest increase out of these four groups is the Motor Vehicle In-Lieu Tax revenue, which jumped 29.5 percent from 2013-14 until now. Back then, the Motor Vehicle In-Lieu Tax for Inglewood residents netted the city $9.3 million. For 2018-19, that number is expected to surge to $12.1 million.