FULLERTON : Council Studies Cuts to Offset Shortfall

The City Council, looking for ways to cut costs, considered a proposal this week to drop funding for the city's annual Fourth of July celebration. The proposal was one of several recommendations before the council as part of a midyear budget report.

Because of the recession, officials said, Fullerton would have to scale back its revenue projections by $1.77 million. The drop came mostly from a fall in sales tax revenue.

City officials, who had anticipated an economic recovery by now, expected to raise $14 million from sales taxes in the 1991-92 fiscal year. But the city now expects to take in only $12.8 million. "Instead of rebounding, sales tax revenues have declined even further in this fiscal year," said Barbara A. Henderson, Fullerton's director of finance.

But to make up for the shortfall, some city departments have saved money by reducing fuel, oil and phone use. Because of the savings and other boosts in revenue, the total shortfall came to a smaller figure--$830,000.

Council members asked the Finance Department to come back in two weeks with suggested cuts.

"It's not going to be easy, because we have only four months left in the fiscal year," Henderson said.

In asking for the reductions, council members were reluctant to support a plan that would cut funding for the city parade, the Street Faire and the Fourth of July celebration. Those events cost the city $15,430, $7,030 and $38,700, respectively.

"City celebrations are an important part of our culture in the city of Fullerton," said Mayor Don Bankhead. Councilman A. B. (Buck) Catlin echoed him, saying, "Traditional things like the Fourth of July--this community responds to that."

Councilman Chris Norby said the city should consider another method of saving money, such as a hiring freeze. "I think really we have to take a long, hard look at personnel," he said. The city will probably divide the necessary cuts among the departments at City Hall, Henderson said.

The council did agree not to give pay raises to the heads of 14 city departments this year. Councilman Richard C. Ackerman cast the sole vote against the proposal, saying that it was not fair to freeze salary raises for a select group of Fullerton employees.

But Bankhead disagreed, saying, "The appropriate place to start is at the top."

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