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OJAI : Proposed Budget Provides for Growth

Solid growth in Ojai’s tax revenues has allowed city officials to propose increasing this year’s city budget by 12.8% to $4.4 million.

“This is the first budget in several years that provides for any significant growth,” City Manager Andrew Belknap told the council last week.

Revenue from property, sales and transient occupancy taxes is expected to reach $2.2 million by the end of June, which is a 10% increase over last year, said Cyndi Reynolds, the city’s finance officer. The city’s reserve could reach $1.4 million, or $400,000 more than expected, she said.

“It’s good news,” Mayor Nina Shelley said.

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The council will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget for fiscal year 1990-91 on June 26.

“The whole decade of the 1980s were financially difficult times for the city,” Belknap said. “As we enter the ‘90s, the city’s fiscal position appears to be strengthening.”

The 1980s were difficult because, among other things, the city spent $1.3 million on earthquake-proofing its downtown business district, officials said.

The proposed budget includes a 4.8% cost-of-living increase for 25 city employees and enough money to hire a planning assistant and receptionist at City Hall. The budget also allows the city to install a 24-hour message service, voice mail and more phone lines to handle what officials said has been a 25% increase in calls since 1988.

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More money for the teen-age recreation program, new air-conditioning for the community center, roof repairs at City Hall and a downtown traffic study are also budgeted. The Parks Department has proposed hiring another maintenance worker and spending $20,000 on a brush chipper, which shreds brush for use as mulch.


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