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City departments ask for more funds

Several city departments, including fire and Glendale Water & Power, have proposed increased budgets featuring capital-improvement projects for next fiscal year, driving up the city's overall spending plan.

Revamping a fire station to accommodate a female employee, adding personnel, overtime increases and a jump in workers' compensation payments are the primary reasons for the fire department's extra spending, city officials said this week during a City Council meeting.

Capital improvements are also forecast to boost costs at Glendale Water & Power and in the Library, Arts & Culture Department.

Glendale's total budget for all funds for next fiscal year, which begins July 1, is planned to be $833 million, up about $95 million from last year, according to a city report.

The proposed general fund budget, which pays for fire, parks and other general services, is slated to be roughly $182 million, increasing approximately $11 million compared to last year.

The fire department has requested roughly $2.9 million more, but it's far from the biggest budget bump among the city's dozen departments. The department's projected budget is about $56 million.

The fire department has 16 new recruits set to become firefighters this year after they finish fire academy training, the first in four years since room for new staff only recently became available after recent retirements.

Officials hope to hire six more firefighters next year, said Brand Villanueva, fire department spokeswoman.

Of the 16 new recruits, one is a woman and Chief Harold Scoggins said during the budget meeting Tuesday that part of the $1 million budgeted for capital improvements will go toward creating female shower and locker rooms at Fire Station 29, along with other revamps.

The recruit will be the only female firefighter in the force as another female firefighter retired in 2012. However, there are four female ambulance operators on staff who, at some point, may be placed at Fire Station 29 and could benefit from the improvements, Villanueva said.

Other stations do not have full-female accommodations, but department officials expect to handle those changes as future budgets permit, she said. When the retired firefighter was at a station without gender-separated facilities, officials built a wall to make an ad-hoc shower just for women, but the locker room was not separated.

As the fire department has requested a relatively small budget boost, Glendale Water & Power plans to spend $74 million more next year, most of it prompted by the electric side of the utility. Library, Arts & Culture is forecast to increase its budget by $5.7 million.

Glendale Water & Power is expected to respond to 18 water-main breaks this year, double the number from last year. However, City Manager Scott Ochoa said that will change as water main improvements are completed. The utility is currently working on $2.4 million in water main improvements in Adams Hill.

"The cavalry is coming over the hill," Ochoa said.

At the same time, the utility plans to propose a series of water-rate increases to fix botched rates from 2012. The council on Tuesday is expected to set a public hearing for the rates, which would increase the utility's revenue over five years, with 5% jumps in the first two years, followed by three years of 4% hikes.

A planned Central Library revamp is the main driver of the Library, Arts & Culture Department's budget bump, Ochoa said. Changes include moving the library's entrance to Harvard Street, adding steps along the new entryway, moving a staircase and adding a new elevator.

The total renovation is expected to cost $15 million, but about $5.1 million has been worked into next year's budget.

The council plans to continue its budget study sessions on Tuesday at 9 a.m. at City Hall.


Follow Brittany Levine on Google+ and on Twitter: @brittanylevine. 


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