City Council Hears First Quarter Financial Report – Pandemic Shifts Projections

On Jan. 11, 2021, at the first meeting of the new year, the Culver City Council heard the First Quarter Financial Report from Chief Financial Officer Onyx Jones. While it was expected to be challenging, good budgeting and planning may have held off the worst; but the is only the first quarter. 

Jones gave a power point presentation to the virtual council meeting and offered her observations. While regular business tax revenue is down by $140,000 compared to last year, “We did budget sales tax very conservatively – and if we continue at the current rate, we may exceed our projections by as much as $4 million.”  

Cannabis tax revenue was up, exceeding the projections. The increase in cannabis revenue for the city is due to more businesses getting permits, and the revenue at those businesses being higher than had previously been anticipated. 

Utility User Tax has brought in $2.2 million, but the revenue from telecommunications has decreased to a point that the city is looking to being an audit in to how the telecom companies are reporting. Again, Jones offered “Revenues were budgeted to be very conservation, but we may have to lower the budget by another million.” 

The Transient Occupancy Tax, or ‘heads in beds’ for the local hotels are drastically down. Jones noted “All the local hotels are open, but with the travel precautions in place, hotel revenues are down and TOT losses reflect that. “

Measure RE could bring in significant revenue, as the real estate market is still quite strong. According to the report, revenues on real property transfer received in this category were $713,000, compared to $313,000 for the previous year. How much more than might be next year with the new tax in effect is still an unknown.  

Owing to the ‘relaxed parking enforcement’ policy, fines and forfeitures were down by almost 60% from the prior year. 

Charges for services is another category down significantly, a revenue stream that comes mostly from Parks and Recreation classes. “We’ve been significantly impacted by COVID in this category, as we had thought that we’d have more vaccinations and therefore more classes back at this point,” said Jones. “We may have to further adjust our expectations in this category.” 

“So while we have some revenues that are doing well – sales tax, cannabis, real estate – we have others that we can look at again in the next report.” 

Judith Martin-Straw

The Actors' Gang

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