DAILY BRIEFING: Ukraine support, budget kick-off, statue saga, and more

Good morning. It’s Tuesday, April 26. Expect partly cloudy skies and a high temperature near 95 degrees with some wind today. First, some news you need to know …

City tax revenue continues climbing; bigger budget expected next year

The city kicked off the process of adopting its 2022-2023 budget Monday evening during a study session, receiving generally positive news from staff.

The good news: We’re in the money, thanks to tourists. For the fiscal year ending June 30, the city expects to take in nearly $21 million in additional revenue than was initially predicted. 

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  • Transit Occupancy Tax (TOT) collected from hotels, motels, and vacation rental stays was up 31% ($45.6 million).
  • Sales and use taxes were up 23% over projections ($28.7 million).

Spending was down as well. The city spent an estimated $12 million less than the prior year. 

  • That’s not all good news. Multiple vacancies in city departments meant an $8 million reduction in personnel expenses. That means longer lines at City Hall and increased wait times to address your issues. There’s a plan to hire more people, though.

Money in, money out: Traditional revenue for the next fiscal year is expected to simmer slightly but still increase. An additional $31.5 million in grant revenue is expected, primarily to help the city in its effort to combat homelessness. The city thinks it will bring in $186.4 million in revenue and spend $178.4 million.

  • City manager Justin Clifton outlined 42 hires he’d like the city to make, including a homeless outreach coordinator. There’s also a recommendation for $2 million “for discretionary services provided throughout the year” to help combat the homeless crisis, the most pressing issue mentioned by taxpayers.

What’s next? Another discussion is planned for May 4, and public input is welcome. Next year’s budget should be adopted by mid-June to meet a July 1 deadline. 

  • Clifton: “We did want to be assertive in spending. Not in detriment to our financial perspective. But with that said, we also don’t want to leave a lot of money on the table.”

Dive into the complete staff report here.

? Briefly

Logan Adair (@logan_adairart on Instagram) puts finishing touches on a mural he painted on Monday to show support for Ukraine.

UKRAINE SUPPORT: Urged on by Public Arts Commission Vice Chair Russell Pritchard, Logan Adair took to the downtown graffiti wall to show his support for Ukraine and raise awareness about the war there on Monday morning. The sunflowers he painted represent peace and are also the national flower of Ukraine. There are local opportunities to raise funds for Ukraine as well. The Palm Springs Cultural Center is partnering with Film Movement, a film subscription service, to offer a virtual cinema experience that supports war relief. The films can be accessed online here. Sing Out For Ukraine, a benefit concert at the Purple Room, features over a dozen local performers on Monday, May 2. Details are here.

STATUE SAGA: The Friends of Frank Bogert, formed last year to defend the honor of a former mayor whose statue is headed for removal from in front of City Hall, has decided to take its case to court. In a news release issued Monday, the group said it was filing a civil suit against the city, alleging it violated its own municipal code relating to historic site preservation and state and federal laws regarding “visual art on public display.” The 21-page lawsuit repeats arguments Bogert supporters have made against the removal of the art — first dedicated in 1990 — and seeks to prevent the statue’s removal. It goes on to defend the former mayor’s reputation, which the group’s attorneys claim was being besmirched in the name of “political correctness and cancel culture.” City officials said they had not seen the lawsuit filed yet, but didn’t expect it to get far. “I can tell you that this lawsuit is utterly devoid of any legal merit,” City Attorney Jeff Ballinger wrote. “If the petitioner proceeds with litigation, the case will be dismissed.

MURDER CHARGE: An 18-year-old accused of gunning down a 66-year-old Palm Springs shopper at the Desert Hills Premium Outlets in Cabazon during an attempted holdup was charged Monday with murder and other offenses. Reginald Charles Trice of Victorville was arrested last week following a nearly monthlong investigation by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department into the slaying of Michael Moser. Along with murder, Trice is charged with attempted robbery and other sentence-enhancing allegations. Trice made his initial court appearance in Riverside County Superior Court Monday. His arraignment is scheduled for May 9 at the Banning Justice Center. It was unclear why Moser was targeted. According to authorities, a warrant was obtained and served at Trice’s residence on April 21. He was taken into custody without incident.

? Today’s events

  • Jazz on the 2nd Floor runs from 5 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. at the Palm Springs Cultural Center.
  • The Books vs. Badges charity basketball game between Palm Springs High teachers and staff and Palm Springs Police Department officers is scheduled for tonight at 6 p.m. at the high school gym.
  • Toastmasters starts at 6 p.m. online Check here for information, including a special offer for subscribers to The Post
  • The PSUSD Board of Education holds its meeting tonight at 6 p.m.
For more events in Palm Springs, check out our complete community calendar. Want your event listed? Just click here.

? What to watch for

  • A third community meeting regarding the planned homeless navigation center along McCarthy Road is being held virtually at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
  • Palm Canyon Theatre’s production of Monty Python’s Sir Spamalot, continues this weekend.
  • Desert Winds Freedom Band has its next performance on Sunday.
  • The Sing Out for Ukraine Benefit Concert is May 2 at 6 p.m. at The Purple Room in Palm Springs.
  • The Annual State of the City is coming up on May 3 at 5 p.m. at the historic Plaza Theatre.
  • The next free concert in the new Downtown Park, put on by The Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce, is slated for May 4 at 7 p.m.
  • The Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast is scheduled for May 11 at 8:30 a.m.
  • The Palm Springs International Jazz Festival is scheduled for the weekend of May 14 and 15 at the historic Plaza Theatre in Downtown Palm Springs.

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