WeHo City Council Approves $112 Million Budget for Upcoming Fiscal Year

2014 WeHo Budget general fund Revenue SourcesThe West Hollywood City Council last night approved a $112 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year that reflects strong growth in the local economy. City Manager Paul Arevalo, in a presentation to the Council, noted the positive impact of an increase in development and tourism.

The city’s biggest source of revenue is its hotel room tax. The budget, which takes effect July 1, projects a three percent increase in revenue from that tax, for a total of $20 million. Hotel room tax revenue fell eight percent in 2009 because of the recession but thanks to a rebound in tourism is now a third higher than its pre-recession peak. City visitors pay a 15.5 percent tax on their hotel bills, with three percent of that going to Visit West Hollywood, the city’s visitor and tourism promotion arm.

The budget projects an increase of 17 percent in building permit fees, generating $4.8 million, because of a flurry of new projects underway across the city. Property taxes are estimated to generate $13 million in the upcoming fiscal year, an increase of seven percent.

There are more than a dozen major projects under construction or moving through the city’s permitting process that will add at least half a million square feet of retail space and more than 1,500 apartments and condo units in the next few years. They include the recently opened Huxley apartments on La Brea Avenue and Fountain, with 187 apartments and 18,000 square feet of retail space and the Sunset La Cienega project, under construction, which will add 190 housing units, 70,000 square feet of retail space and 286 hotel rooms.

Of the overall budget for the 2014-2015 fiscal year, $79 million is part of the General Fund, the part of the budget that the city has flexibility to allocate because it isn’t committed to special uses dictated by the state or other sources of revenue. General Fund revenue is budgeted at $80 million for the 2015-2016 fiscal year.

The budget also projects an increase of nine percent in revenue from parking meters to a total of $4.7 million, thanks to completion of a city plan to install credit card parking meters.

The budget approved last night calls out five key areas:

TECHNOLOGY. The budget proposes spending $425,000 over the next two years to establish a citywide Innovations and Technology Catalyst Group that will implement new technologies and build tech infrastructure to serve local residents and visitors and businesses.

Another $200,000 would be spent annually to continue implementation of a geographic information system that will allow the city to present information digitally. An example of that is the city’s InfoMap, which makes information about proposed real estate development available online to residents.

ARTS & CULTURE. The budget doubles funding for grants to non-profit art organizations serving West Hollywood to $100,000 a year. That includes $47,000 for an annual literary event to replace the West Hollywood Book Fair, which was put on hiatus this year because of rising costs and falling attendance. The biggest arts and culture spending would be $425,000 to fund operations at the West Hollywood Library. Los Angeles County has helped fund additional services since the construction of the new library, but those reserve funds will be exhausted in the 2015-2016 fiscal year.

HUMAN SERVICES & HOMELESSNESS. Proposed city initiatives in this category include developing a strategy to help older residents continue to live in West Hollywood, where housing costs are on the rise. The budget proposes spending $35,000 on that.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT. The budget includes $150,000 to celebrate the city’s 30th anniversary this calendar year. It also allocates $265,000 to improve the city’s efforts to communicate with and engage its residents. That money would cover community meetings and newsletters as well as use of Twitter and increased use of Facebook and other social media.

Under the proposed budget, the city would spend $100,000 to hire a consultant to lobby for extending MTA rail services to West Hollywood and to influence decisions regarding the possible redevelopment of the MTA bus depot on Santa Monica Boulevard. Cohen Bros. Realty has proposed developing that property as a shopping mall.

EASTSIDE SERVICES. The budget includes $350,000 to expand the PickUp Line, the city’s free weekend nightlife shuttle along Santa Monica Boulevard, to La Brea Avenue. It also would spend $170,000 on additional bicycle “security ambassadors” who would concentrate their efforts on the east side. Another $300,000 would be spent in 2014-2015 for improvements to the Plummer Park Community Center and tennis courts, with $100,000 spent the following fiscal year.

Other proposed major expenditures include $640,000 over two years to fund the Design District street landscaping program and improve bicycle and pedestrian transportation.

Proposed spending on capital projects includes $800,000 over two years for improvements to City Hall, $785,000 for tree maintenance over two years, $930,000 for street paving over two years and $550,000 for sidewalk and curb construction during the same period.

The budget proposes spending $112,000 over two years on West Hollywood Park and $85,000 on Hart Park.

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Brian Holt
Brian Holt
8 years ago

Where is the money for billboards reminding folks under 30 that HIV still kills? And are they working to help those still struggling with meth death? I sure hope so. I cringe to read on this site and others that people are still using and abusing that stuff. I would have thought it disappeared but apparently not. How about insuring we stomp out the gang bang creep before it hits us. It’s already attacking Hollywood, and from where I sit, I’m seeing increased tagging creeping over into WeHo. And is it just me or am I see more homeless on… Read more »

mike dunn
mike dunn
8 years ago

90069
A articulated bus! :-))

Manny
Manny
8 years ago

…..lol, troublemaker!

90069
90069
8 years ago

What say you about “sectional” ?

Manny
Manny
8 years ago

@mike dunn……

Sofa- seats 4 or more, may have a pull out bed, generally formal, seen in living rooms as it represent taste, class and style.

Couch- comfortably seats 2 or 3, can not have a pull out bed, used for informal social gatherings, perfect in family rooms, the term couch is slang for sofa.

Operating Division/Bus Garage/Bus Terminal, all can be referred to as “Bus Depot”.

I’m giving this way too much thought…..let’s agree to disagree.

mike dunn
mike dunn
8 years ago

Manny
Sofa/couch, same thing. Bus Depot/ Bus operating division two different types of operation. Let me make it SIMPLE for those who can’t understand.

Bus Depot- a facility where you buy tickets and board and alight buses

Bus Operating Division- a facility where buses are stored and serviced.

You can’t buy tickets nor board and alight buses within division seven. But you can see buses being stored and serviced.

El Futuro
El Futuro
8 years ago

I have a better idea, why doesn’t Weho build and offer free apartments above Mickey’s so as to not inconvenience anyone.

keaswaran
8 years ago

I hope they some day work out a deal with the city of Los Angeles where the Pick Up line can run just a few blocks farther to reach the Red Line station at Hollywood and Highland. Right now I very rarely go out in West Hollywood because the 2 and 4 buses are so slow, Uber/Lyft are too expensive, taxis are impossible to get, and I don’t want to commit drunk driving. I’m sure there are plenty of other people like me that would start coming to visit local bars if there were a more convenient transit connection (and… Read more »

Manny
Manny
8 years ago

@mike dunn…..Hey Mike, so what difference does it make? Would the $100,000 be spent differently if it were called “MTA Division Seven”?

Do you get this upset when someone calls a “couch” a “sofa”?

Shawn Thompson
Shawn Thompson
8 years ago

Whats the total city hall payroll going to grow to in this new one? So many individuals in six figures already at city hall, and what we get as residents in return is what? More expensive everything!

Chris Sanger
Chris Sanger
8 years ago

Hank – what was the vote on the budget? 5-0?

Former Staff
8 years ago
Reply to  Chris Sanger

It was on the City Council’s “consent calendar,” which means all five Council members approved it.

mike dunn
mike dunn
8 years ago

Henry Scott, The MTA does not pick-up or discharge passengers in Division Seven. There is a bus stop outside but none within the division, it’s not allowed. Fallowing your reasoning, every bus stop that the MTA services would be a Bus Depot.

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