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La Mesa taps reserve cash to cover COVID-19 losses

The coronavirus pandemic has created a “shock to the state and local economy,” La Mesa Finance Director Sarah Waller-Bullock told the City Council last week.

La Mesa residents should keep in mind that these funds exists for this very purpose and that the City has been responsible in maintaining reserves year-over-year. Still, we need to remember we are in uncharted waters and know the city is doing what it can to protect its citizens.

Declines in the city’s base sales tax, transactions sales tax, hotel visitor tax and other economic losses foretell a challenging future for the city, which counts nearly 5,000 businesses and close to 60,000 residents within its borders.

“We do still have reserves and we do still have a fair amount,” Waller-Bullock said. “And the reason why is because we’ve built them up, and now’s the time to use them… (It is) important to understand that the revenues that we’re losing in the current year and the revenues that we would lose next year, those are going to be gone.

“It is going to be hard to get those back even when the economy recovers, whenever that is, if it’s the next year or the next two years. But we do have the reserves to withstand that. And they do give us time to come up with some plans also to monitor expenditures and keep these expenditures in check to give the economy a chance to come back.”

Waller-Bullock told the City Council that based on projections by its consultants, HdL Companies, the city’s sales tax revenues are expected to be down by $1.2 million and its Propostion L tax revenues will decrease by more than $670,000 than had been projected for the current fiscal year that ends June 30.

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