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Letter to the editor: Accusations of Encinitas’ poor financial health are inaccurate

The city of Encinitas is in excellent financial shape.

On June 10, 2015, the Encinitas City Council is expected to approve a balanced budget.

Sometimes a myth surfaces that Encinitas is in financial trouble. We’ll have a speaker at City Hall who accuses the city of fiscal irresponsibility, acquiring too much debt, spending money it doesn’t have, or making reckless choices.

It’s every resident’s legitimate right to disagree with and try to influence how the city decides to spend its money. But it’s inaccurate to allege that city leaders are reckless spenders or to suggest that the city is drowning in debt. Those accusations are simply unsubstantiated by the facts.

Like you, I believe government’s primary obligation is to be a responsible steward of the public’s money. I don’t want hard-earned tax dollars wasted or mismanaged. This city has potholes to fill and neighborhoods to protect. I’m determined to do everything possible to ensure that fiscal mismanagement doesn’t happen on our watch. I routinely request that expenditures be justified — not just new expenditures, but existing ones. I don’t embrace an ever-growing government footprint.

The city pays about $5 million each year in total debt service, which gives us a debt ratio of 7.9 percent (debt ratio means the yearly debt service amount compared to general fund revenue). This is considered excellent.

Our biggest expenditure is to keep our city safe. We support six fire stations, and we contract with the Sheriff’s Department at a total yearly cost of just under $28 million.

Our most expensive and largest asset is our roads. These are the projects we intend to fund in the next six years: $17.4 million for street paving, $4.8 million for Leucadia streetscape, $3.3 million for Birmingham Drive, $1.5 million for storm drain repair, $1.2 million for Safe Routes to School projects, $1.1 million for artificial turf and lights at Leo Mullen Park, and $750,000 for Beacon’s Beach repair. As the project scope and costs become defined, we have the following still to fund from at least $4.2 million that’s unassigned: at-grade pedestrian railroad crossing at Montgomery, railroad undercrossing at El Portal, downtown fire station replacement, and activation funds for Pacific View.

Responsible management of taxpayer money is a fiduciary obligation that I take seriously. In my first six months on the Encinitas City Council, it’s a relief to have thoroughly investigated our finances and confirmed that we are managing them with discipline and wisdom.

Catherine S. Blakespear, Encinitas Deputy Mayor


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