Our local economy has limited opportunities for residential and commercial development, a declining tax base, and a small retail industry. Benicia’s residential and business economy is not set up to sustain the City services we have come to enjoy as a full-service city.

To begin solving the structural budget deficit, Benicia is developing a Resiliency Plan which aims to align the programs and services the city offers to its strategic goals and put Benicia on solid long-term financial footing. 

 

About Benicia’s Resiliency Plan

Timeline: January – March 2024

The Resiliency Plan will include the scope of programs offered under two funding scenarios: one if the general sales tax measure on the March 5, 2024 Statewide Primary Election is passed by voters, and another if the sales tax measure is not passed by voters.

The City completed four community workshops and a virtual survey in the month of January. Results were presented at the February 6, 2024 City Council meeting. View the video and survey results here or below under Council Meetings.

 

Members of the public are invited to ask questions about the city’s financial challenges, upcoming revenue measures on the March 2024 ballot, or other community issues at the upcoming Ask and Engage Q&A Series with the City of Benicia. The events are open to the public and no registration is needed.

 

Q&A with the City Manager  |  February 29

On Thursday, February 29 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at Bruehol Benicia Brewing, located at 4828 East Second Street. Members of the public may stop by at any time to ask questions and chat with Benicia City Manager, Mario Giuliani.

 

 


 

What's the Problem?

 

Today, Benicia faces an unsustainable structural budget deficit. This deficit has been a long time coming, caused by a declining population and limited opportunity for economic growth. Benicia’s local economy cannot support its level of City services as a full-service city – owning and operating its own fire department, police department, water, wastewater, parks and recreation, and library. These services are what make Benicia a safe, unique, and vibrant community, but we no longer have the resources to support all these services.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our situation is that we are a built-out community with limited locations for new development and we do not have the economic tax base to support the level of services we enjoy and have come to expect. Below are some of the reasons Benicia's economy is unable to provide sufficient revenue to pay for expenses for programs and services.

  • Declining Population: In 20 years, our population has increased by less than 100 people and now is starting to decline
  • Limited Retail Revenue: There is so limited retail in Benicia, Amazon is a leading sales tax producer for the City
  • Limited Property Tax Revenue: If 71 housing units were to be added to the City valued at $1 million, it would only produce $200,000 in property taxes
  • Lack of New Development: There have only been 4 new commercial/industrial buildings constructed in the last 15 years.
  • ALL of the property tax revenue in Benicia isn’t even sufficient to pay for public safety costs: Each year, Benicia’s proceeds from Property Tax is $21 million… the cost for our Police and Fire services costs the City $26 million each year. 

  • What about revenue from existing businesses? The vast majority of our Industrial Park is comprised of warehouse space (4.3 million square feet). Those businesses produce no sales tax and very little jobs. In fact, of the over 500 businesses in our Industrial Park, only a few (less than 20) produce significant sales tax (i.e. more than $50,000 per year). 

 


 

Fixing the Structural Deficit

 

The City's plan to fix its structural deficit is to:

  1. Reduce Expenses

  2. Increase Local Revenue (taxes)

  3. Grow our Tax Base through new development

 

This comprehensive approach of containing spending, securing additional local revenue, and encouraging new development, will help stabilize Benicia’s financial condition and have a strong and stable foundation to build a prosperous Benicia.

 


 

What We’ve Done So Far

 

1. Reducing Expenses

In the last 12 months, Benicia has proactively started cutting expenses and reducing operating costs by $4.5 million through the elimination of 10 positions (5% of the City's general fund workforce) and reducing programs. However, even with these reductions, an additional $6.5 million needs to be cut from the annual budget.

 

Fewer Staff Positions

Reduced 10 positions, saving over $1.5 Million

  • Parks and Community Services Director
  • Parks Superintendent
  • Management Analyst, Parks
  • Parks Landscape & Building Maintenance Journeyman
  • Parks Landscape & Building Maintenance Journeyman
  • Deputy City Manager
  • Sustainability Coordinator
  • Diversity Equity Inclusion Manager
  • Librarian
  • Library Technician
  • Hydrant maintenance worker position

 

Program Reductions

By reducing programs, services, and grants, the City is saving $3 million.

  • Reduction of Pool Hours

  • Canceled Park Road Construction Project

  • Delayed Vehicle and Equipment Replacement

  • Library closures on Sundays, starting in 2024

  • Eliminated/Delayed development of a Facility Assessment

  • 4th of July Fireworks & Celebration

  • No road paving projects, only emergency repairs

  • Reduced parks watering

  • Community Grants for Nonprofits

  • Delayed and deferred maintenance on City facilities

  • No updates to storm water system

  • Christmas Tree Lighting

 

2. Increasing Local Investment

One component of Benicia’s Pathway to Resiliency Plan is to raise local revenue. Benicia has placed two measures on the upcoming March 5, 2024 ballot.

Measure A will raise the local hotel tax paid by tourists and guests from 9% to 13%.

Measure B is to Protect Benicia’s Public Safety and Essential Services.  It will raise the local sales tax by ¾ cent, costing the average Benician about $10 a month.

Both measures were built with taxpayer safeguards and accountability. An independent citizen’s oversight committee will review annual audits to ensure both measures as used as promised.

By law, not one penny of either measure can be taken by the State. It all stays right here in Benicia.

Learn more at www.BeniciaMeasuresAandB.org

 

3. Smart Growth – Doing Things Differently

Grow our tax base through new, smart developments. New housing and a hotel that will generate sales and hotel tax revenue.

 

Eastern Gateway (Completed 2022)

The rezoning and expanded opportunities for mixed uses in the area around Military East and East 5th Street, provide growth opportunities.

Housing Element (Completed 2023)

Identify and support Benicia’s housing needs. New, affordable construction of homes of all types, will grow our tax base.

Streamlined Design Review Requirements (Completed 2023)

Design review will be simplified, saving time and money while encouraging investment throughout Benicia..

Increase Downtown Height Limitations

Increasing the height limitation to spur the development of revenue-generating uses, such as hotels,

Amending Zoning Regulations

Cutting red tape to streamline commercial and industrial requirements, encouraging growth.

 

The challenge before us is not small, but if we Believe in Benicia, we will be set up to launch into prosperity for 2030 and beyond.

 

 

Informational Materials

Community Outreach & Engagement

Council Meetings