Since the Great Recession of 2007-09 took a severe toll on the American economy, the City of Concord has been focused on economic recovery and long-term fiscal stability that would not only enable it to continue providing essential services, but would replenish and strengthen its reserves to weather any future storm.
The COVID-19 pandemic was that storm, and Concord braced for the inevitable drop in revenue. Fiscal Year 2019-20 General Fund revenues were anticipated to come in $6.2 million lower than expected, so Council made the tough decision to stabilize the budget through reserve spending and deep cuts to the FY 2020-21 budget.
As a result of Council’s fiscal leadership and FY 2020-21 revenues coming in higher than anticipated, the City ended the year with a $10.5 million budget residual in the General Fund, and a $3.6 million residual for Measure V, Concord’s voter-approved sales tax. These are one-time funds that the Council allocated during its March 8, 2022 regular meeting.
In addition, the recent meeting served as a mid-year budget update, and FY 2021-22 revenues are also coming in higher than projected. The budget residuals and the higher current-year revenues enabled the City Council to make some much needed investments in restoring the City’s reserves, service levels, roads and infrastructure, homeless services, and paying down unfunded liabilities.
Essential Staffing, backlogged maintenance
Recognizing that Concord’s staffing is at its lowest level in decades, Council funded the return of 17 essential positions across the City. These positions will stabilize City operations and allow for the return of certain services that were reduced during the pandemic, such as re-opening the police department lobby, returning some code enforcement and parks programs, and addressing backlogged maintenance needs of our parks, buildings, and roadways.
Council also directed one-time dollars into the City’s five-year Capital Improvement Program (CIP), which is a robust plan to invest in the significant improvement of Concord’s roads and infrastructure. While many major projects are currently in the design phase, construction will kick-off Citywide in spring of 2023. The Fiscal Years 2022-23 and 2023-24 CIP will be reviewed by the community and Council in May and June of this year.
Unfunded Personnel Liabilities
Further, the Council voted to utilize a portion of the one-time dollars to pay down the City’s unfunded personnel liabilities, deciding to allocate $2.6 million in one-time General Fund residual funds and an additional $1.4 million annually from the General Fund. This is a significant step, strengthening the City’s long-term fiscal position, because unfunded personnel liabilities create risk to the City’s future if not addressed.
Homelessness has become an increasing concern and priority for the Concord community. To help address the issue, Council allocated $2.4 million of the Measure V one-time funds into a holding account. Council will work to determine how best to invest this funding to have a positive impact that addresses community concerns over the remainder of this year.
This funding is in addition to the funds already dedicated by Council to increasing services for the Coordinated Outreach Referral & Engagement (CORE) and Mental Health Evaluation Team (MHET) programs and adding a staff position to the City's Housing Division to support responding to homeless needs and impacts. More information about how the City is investing in services for the unsheltered can be found at: cityofconcord.org/homelessservices.
The City of Concord is also fortunate to be granted $27 million in one-time federal recovery dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Council previously allocated $8 million to fund the City’s COVID testing program for staff and to provide essential services when revenues fell short during the pandemic. This winter, the City conducted extensive outreach to gather community input regarding spending priorities for the remaining $19 million. Council will receive a presentation to hear the feedback on April 26, and they are expected to allocate the funding in June of 2022.
To learn more about how Council invested the budget residual and to watch the March 8 meeting, please visit cityofconcord.org.