A new police hiring and $13 million from taxpayers to major developer Mike Harrah’s multi-building downtown project are among a number of changes proposed in Santa Ana’s mid-year budget update this week.

The council’s regular meeting today features a chance for residents to see their newly elected City Council members discuss their taxpayer dollar spending priorities, while an update on the current fiscal fiscal year budget lays out how it’s actually played out over the past half year.

Meanwhile, new spending requests are slated to come up.

Among them: Santa Ana property tycoon Mike Harrah just completed all the contractual requirements for his massive building project that’s expected to fundamentally reshape the look of a changing downtown. 

Known as Third and Broadway, Harrah’s project will raise a 16-story apartment tower, a 10-story hotel and some retail shops right in the middle of a commercial district that’s become the center of a reenergized gentrification battle among its remaining Latino merchants. 

In 2020, a prior City Council under former Mayor Miguel Pulido approved funding Harrah’s site preparations with $13 million out of the taxpayer general fund. 

And Harrah’s completing of the contractuals means the city’s got to hand that cash over to him this year – an adjustment staff say is now needed to the current budget, while a substantially different City Council now holds office. 

The police department wants to remove a forensic specialist position from the department’s hiring freeze due to what staff say is an increased demand for fingerprint processing and now a backlog. 

In their report attached to Tuesday’s meeting, city staff say there would be no current fiscal year impact due to budget savings, though “the ongoing actual cost” of having one on the payroll “may be $140,000.”

There could also be some changes at the local library.

It will cost less to “streamline staffing” and “improve administrative supervision” at the city library, staff wrote in proposing the removal of a library technician and management analyst position, and the addition of a graphics designer and a higher-level management analyst.

“The future annual net impact may be $37,000,” reads the city staff report.

Another source of library income? 


More cannabis tax money might go to library improvements this year, with staff proposing more than $1 million from the Cannabis Public Benefit, which was set up alongside a cannabis retail tax to support these very improvements to public resources.

The money will go to renovations at the Newhope Library, on top of the $2,398,720 the city already committed from the fund in the previous two fiscal years.

City Council members will also consider funding to increase senior transportation around Santa Ana.

City parks officials want to make part-time staffers into full-time ones at the senior mobility program – which transports seniors to senior centers and local grocery and retail stores on Monday, Wednesday and Friday – using funding from the Orange County Transportation Authority. 

Mayor Valerie Amezcua wants the city to host an annual prayer breakfast, like the one that happens every February in Washington D.C., where major political, social, and business leaders convene and pray together.

Likely happening every May, staff estimate the breakfast to cost $20,000 out the non-departmental section of the City Manager’s office budget this year. 

And will Santa Ana officials agree to donate to OC’s annual summer Pride event?

After a 2022 festival in front of the historic Yost Theatre, one that Orange County Pride Parade organizers called “bigger than ever,” the OC Pride nonprofit requested a $30,000 donation from city officials. 

Finally, a look at what the city’s spent so far: 

Since the 2022-23 budget’s first quarter, the police department – and largest recipient of tax dollars – has spent $67 million as of the end of last year, which is 47% of the nearly $148 million budgeted.

Public works spent the least amount of its budget so far, of all city departments, with nearly $13.8 million (27%) expended out of $50.7 million.

For staff’s full breakdown of the mid-year budget update, click here.

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