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SEAL BEACH : $16.3 Million OKd for 1990-91 Spending

The City Council this week approved a $16.3-million budget for the 1990-91 fiscal year. Sagging revenues and the increasing financial burden of complying with new state regulations have put the brakes on new spending, officials said.

“This is now about the 10th year that the city has had to curtail some major capital improvements because of a lack of funding,” City Manager Robert Nelson said.

Among city programs affected by the spending crunch are pier and beach repairs, street construction and building repairs. While spending will increase 4.7% overall compared to last year’s budget, new spending on capital improvements will be cut by 13.4%.

Nelson said certain state practices have contributed to the city’s financial pinch. One is the state’s passage of new regulations without giving cities the money needed for them.

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“They require us to do this and that and say we don’t need to give you any money because you can charge fees,” Nelson said.

But charging fees to cover the costs of new programs is not easy for cities, Nelson said. “You have to meet the state mandate, but then you have to make the political decision of charging your electorate to pay for it.” Residents often resist new fees, he added.

There is only one new city staff position planned for next year, and one of the tasks of that new employee will be to help the city comply with state regulations for air quality and waste management, Nelson said. The addition of an administrative aide for the Developmental Services Department will cost more than $37,000 in salary and benefits.

Another state practice causing problems for Seal Beach is the allocation of sales tax revenue to cities on the basis of where items are sold. Nelson said this means cities must skew development decisions in favor of building more retail stores or face the alternative of seeing the tax revenues generated by their own residents’ purchases go to neighboring towns.

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Nelson said Seal Beach has refused to approve more businesses in pursuit of tax revenues. As a result, about 42% of the sales tax generated by residents’ purchases goes to other cities.

He said a fairer way to distribute revenues would be based on population.

The new city budget also provides for a 5% general salary increase, although specific adjustments are still being negotiated with the Seal Beach Police Officers Assn. and the Orange County Employees Assn.


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