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Santa Rosa explores ways to spend surplus

Enjoying a rare budget surplus, the Santa Rosa City Council on Tuesday instructed staff to explore spending additional money next year on city parks, the Luther Burbank Home and the Southeast Greenway.

Acting Chief Financial Officer Jennifer Phillips recommended the council consider spending $534,500 of a $3.3 million budget surplus from last year on six one-time initiatives. That's in addition to the $1.2 million the council agreed to spend on the annexation of Roseland.

The initiatives include $215,000 on an asset management plan, $127,000 on various economic incentives, $20,500 to study community impact reports, $74,500 on a plan to better recover resources such as recycling or composting, $68,000 on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and $30,000 for expanding family and youth programs.

The council also directed Phillips to put three additional items on their wish list for the upcoming 2014-15 budget.

These included money to improve the maintenance of park facilities, estimated at $500,000; funds to maintain the Luther Burbank Home, a popular tourist attraction with an estimated $250,000 in needs; and approximately $100,000 to help support the effort to turn an undeveloped strip of land once earmarked for the extension of Highway 12 into a park known as the Southeast Greenway.

The funds are only estimates and may change during the budget process, which begins in earnest in May. The $3.3 million surplus was made possible through a combination of tight budget controls during the 2012-13 year and an improving economy, Phillips said.


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