Arvin looking for ways to spend surplus $450,000

Arvin looking for ways to spend surplus $450,000

ARVIN, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - It's not uncommon for cities to struggle with budget problems and shortfalls, not having enough money to provide services for residents. But, Arvin has a different kind of budget "problem," a surplus of $450,000.

The city is asking for help in finding ways to spend the money.

"It's a good position to be in," said city manager Tim Chapa.

The surplus is the result of money raised by Measure L. In 2008, Arvin voters overwhelmingly passed the 1 percent sales tax measure.

Implemented in 2009, the measure has raised $3 million, according to city manager Chapa. Most of that money has been used to hire three more police officers and two dispatchers, as well as to pay Kern County for providing fire protection for the city.

The City Council held a special budget meeting at the Veterans Hall to hear from residents on how they would like the city to use the money.

Among the most popular choices: fix the broken sidewalks, fill the potholes, put more lighting on the streets.

"And beautify the city," said resident Salvador Partida.

He admited the city has improved its looks in the years he's lived there, since 2003. But there is still room for improvement.

"They haven't been maintaining the streets the way I think they should," he said.

Others want the city to invest in its young people by maintaining and improving the parks, particularly the only two soccer fields in the city.

"We don't have enough spaces to practice and to compete with different teams," said Benjamin Miranda, president of Arvin Soccer League. Miranda said teams from other cities don't want to travel to play in Arvin, because the fields are in bad condition.

He said putting in more soccer fields would be a financial boon to the city, as visitors would then spend more money in Arvin while visiting there.

Another resident, Petra Villanueva, said the city needs to establish an oversight committee that would be in charge of monitoring all monies raised and spent under Measure L. City manager Chapa confirmed that other cities have such oversight committees, but it is not a legal requirement to have one. But, Chapa admitted, it would add another layer of accountability and transparency in assuring the public the money is being used in accordance with the intention of Measure L.

City leaders took all suggestions into account and plan on having another meeting at a later date to see which ideas or projects are doable.