Santa Monica Raises Allocation for Schools by $177,000 in New Budget

Times Staff Writer

The Santa Monica City Council unanimously approved a $123-million budget Tuesday after increasing aid for public schools and assuring Main Street-area residents they would have a say in whether their neighborhood needs a city parking garage.

The council approved an additional $177,000 in aid and services for the financially troubled Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, which is facing an estimated deficit of $400,000 next year, according to City Manager John Jalili.

The city usually provides about $300,000 a year in aid and services for the school district, Jalili said.

Same Levels

The new budget maintains city services and spending at about the same level as last year, including $3.5 million for social services, Mayor Christine E. Reed said. But because of a cut in federal funds, the city had to use $800,000 of its reserves to avoid cutting the budget, Jalili said.

Both Jalili and Reed have said that in future years the city will not be able to draw from the $5.6-million reserve to maintain social service funding.

The most controversial issue before the council Tuesday was a $335,000 budget item to pay for plans for a parking garage on a city lot on Neilsen Way, between Hill and Kinney streets.

Language in the budget that said the money would be used for "construction drawings" for the garage drew complaints from a number of Main Street residents who were concerned that plans were moving ahead without public comment.

The council unanimously adopted an amendment directing that the money be used to "assess the need and feasibility of" a garage.

Herb Sandel, president of the Santa Monica Shores Tenants Assn., said the amendment came as a victory for Main Street area residents who fear that a large parking garage would encourage too much growth on Main Street.

Another plan for construction of a 675-space garage on the Neilson Way location by private developer Russell Barnard is scheduled to go before the Planning Commission on July 7.

An amendment proposed by Councilman Dennis Zane to appropriate $26,000 for the Ocean Park Community Organization was defeated by a 5-2 vote. Only Councilman James Conn joined Zane in voting for the funding.

Last month the council voted not to include funds in the budget for the Ocean Park Community Organization and the Santa Monica Mid-City Neighbors for the second time in two years.

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