RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA With the 2017-18 fiscal year approaching, the Rancho Santa Margarita City Council took one final review of its budget Wednesday, June 14, in preparation for adoption later this month.
The June 14 meeting gave city council one final chance to have city staff make adjustments and council members recommended a couple of reductions to minimize a planned projected deficit for the coming year.
The city council voted unanimously to save $120,000 by cutting out a Crime Prevention Specialist from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department contract, and by omitting a holiday tree and special lighting at the fountain in front of City Hall.
Those omissions would increase a small surplus in the General Fund from $145,836 to $265,836.
Councilman Jerry Holloway moved to remove the $100,000 for a Crime Prevention Specialist citing the annual increases in the Sheriff’s contract would cause the city to have to remove that position first when cuts are necessary.
“I don’t want to bring a position on, have the public get used to having it there and then take it away,” Holloway said. “I don’t know that that’s good leadership.”
Other council members agreed that the struggle to keep the position would be difficult given the rising costs with the Sheriff’s contract, but noted the importance of the position.
“I’d like to think that this role if deployed with the right resource and put to work quickly and effectively, could have a lasting impact on our communities on understanding what we could do in the community to help ourselves,” Mayor Pro Tem Mike Vaughn said.
Mayor Carol Gamble brought up an idea to have the Crime Prevention Specialist for a one-year trial period so that the city could collect data to see if there is a notable decrease in crimes within city limits.
But Councilman Tony Beall noted the city has been routinely ranked as one of the safest among cities of its size (approximately 50,000 residents) in California for the past six…