BREA : City Officials Ponder Cuts, New Revenue

Brea officials are scrambling to find ways to cut more than $525,000 from the city's $25-million 1992-1993 budget before the new fiscal year begins July 1.

City officials say they expect next fiscal year's city revenue will be about $25.3 million. It's an increase from the $24 million spending plan for fiscal year '91-'92, but still less than needed, officials said.

"This will be a status quo budget," said City Manager Frank Benest as he briefed City Council members on the budget and possible cuts that could achieve the needed savings.

At a Tuesday night presentation, city staff recommended few budget cuts but, rather, suggested ways of raising more revenue.

Options presented to council members included increasing the hotel occupancy tax from 10% to 11%, which would raise $70,000; charging non-residents for use of Brea paramedics, for a savings of $50,000, and raising the city's sanitation fees to generate a $50,000 increase in revenue.

Also suggested were several financial strategies, including loaning money to the city's Redevelopment Agency in order to receive interest income of $179,000 and increasing the amount of maintenance work done by city employees on Redevelopment Agency properties, raising $50,000.

The major administrative cut suggested was forcing some employees to take a week of unpaid leave during the Christmas holiday week to save the city $100,000.

City Council members were doubtful about many of the proposals, worrying that ideas such as charging workers who don't live in Brea but work in the city for ambulance service could damage the town's relations with local businesses.

"I'm worried about the impact on the business climate," said Councilman Glenn G. Parker.

One option quickly dismissed by the council was raising license fees for the most prosperous city businesses.

"It's the wrong message to send right now," said Councilman Wayne D. Wedin. He suggested that a study be conducted to determine whether any services could be scrapped without causing much hardship for town residents.

The budget calls for continuing a hiring freeze adopted last year and not restoring budget cuts forced on many city departments over the course of the year.

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