May Raise Fees : Huntington Park Council OKs Budget

Times Staff Writer

The City Council has approved a $26.67-million budget for the 1988-89 fiscal year that anticipates increases in some municipal fees to pump more money into the coffers of this financially pressed city.

City officials hope increased charges for building permits, plan checks, police fingerprinting and copying of accident reports and the use of city facilities will generate $100,000 this year, said City Administrator Donald L. Jeffers.

The council is scheduled to consider the proposed fee increases at its Aug. 1 meeting. The $100,000 is included in the new budget, but Jeffers said he was still considering how much each fee should be raised.

"We don't think the city is recouping its costs," Jeffers said. "It's been awhile since those fees were adjusted."

The budget for the current fiscal year--which began July 1 and ends next June 30--anticipates spending $23.86 million with overall reserves of $2.8 million. The city will spend $9.94 million from its general fund with a reserve of $12,643. The general fund pays for essential city services, including police and fire protection.

"It's a very tight budget," Jeffers said. "This budget provides for no additional services (over last year). We're going to do the best we can to maintain an adequate level of service."

The budget contains 4.2% raises for all city employees, but does not reinstate the 13 positions eliminated last year, which, with other cutbacks, reduced city spending by about $80,000 a month.

The council made the cuts last November because the city was forced to help its Redevelopment Agency meet annual bond payments of $4.4 million. The city funneled $1.6 million of the $3.6 million it received in sales tax revenue last year to the Redevelopment Agency, Jeffers said.

That money would have been used to pay salaries and meet other operating expenses.

Because of project delays, the Redevelopment Agency has not received as much property tax revenue as officials anticipated. Final figures are not available, but the Redevelopment Agency is expected to have received $2.7 million in property tax revenue for the past year.

Last year, the council approved a $30.2-million budget with about $25 million in spending and a $6.7-million reserve. This year's decrease in spending largely reflects the cuts made last year, Jeffers said.

The new budget includes $300,000 in new income from franchise fees received by the city from its new commercial trash hauler--H.P. Disposal Co. A split council awarded the contract to H.P. Disposal last month, bypassing proposals from competing firms that offered to pay twice as much in franchise fees.

Councilman Thomas E. Jackson, who spearheaded contract negotiations for the city, defended the agreement last week. He said the city was willing to accept lower franchise fees and live without the additional revenue for a promise of good service.

"I think history is going to be good to us on this trash situation," Jackson said.

Last November, city officials called together more than 50 employees--nearly a quarter of the municipal work force--to warn them of impending layoffs. At the time, officials said the city was running a deficit of more than $300,000 a month to help the Redevelopment Agency.

But city employees strongly opposed the layoffs and the council eliminated only the 13 positions, some of which were vacant. In addition, the city borrowed about $1 million against Redevelopment Agency revenue that was received late in the fiscal year. Jeffers said the revenues are being held in an account to repay the loan later this year.

The city was hit with another financial setback when a major Huntington Park truck dealership announced it will move to Santa Fe Springs Jan. 1. The GMC Truck Center has been generating more than $200,000 a year in local sales tax revenue for the city.

Jeffers said the full impact of the move and loss in sales tax revenue will not be felt until the 1989-1990 fiscal year.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World