Council Rejects More Cuts, Loan Idea : Budget: Inglewood’s top managers are asked to consider cutting their salaries to help offset a $3.7-million revenue shortfall.
The Inglewood City Council on Tuesday rejected spending cuts and a loan as a way to balance its budget, calling instead on top administrators to take a look at their own salaries before considering other cuts.
“I think that across the board people have to make sacrifices,” Councilman Garland Hardeman said.
Hardeman, along with Councilman Daniel K. Tabor, strongly objected to a budget-cutting plan that sought to close a $3.7-million shortfall in this year’s budget without sacrifices by top administrators such as City Manager Paul Eckles, City Atty. Howard Rosten and Assistant City Manager Norman Cravens.
Eckles makes $175,041 annually and Rosten $159,340. Cravens earns $122,948 a year.
The staff plan has three parts: a $2-million loan from the capital improvement fund to the city’s General Fund, spending cuts of $1 million from the travel and equipment budgets, and possible savings from such things as deferred employee raises and shorter work weeks.
“It asks our lower-paid workers to tighten their belts,” Tabor said.
“Voting on this means I have to defend it, and I cannot do that,” added Tabor, who also complained that the plan fails to analyze the impact of cuts on city services. Tabor faces a tough reelection battle in April.
Council members ordered Eckles to return in two weeks with a new plan. In the meantime, they agreed, he could begin talking to union representatives about cost-saving measures.
The city has already cut nearly $2 million from its $64.5-million General Fund budget since the beginning of the fiscal year last July. However, California’s sagging economy, state budget cuts and last April’s civil disturbance have led to lower city revenues, putting Inglewood in the red this year and for years to come, according to its top administrators.
If more cuts are not made now, city staff members said, Inglewood will not be able to pay all its bills by the end of the fiscal year on June 31.
It was expected that the most controversial part of the staff’s budget-balancing plan would be its centerpiece: a proposed $2-million loan to the city’s General Fund that covers the cost of such things as gasoline for police cars and salaries for city workers. The $2 million would come from the city’s capital improvement fund and be paid back with future revenues from the proposed Hollywood Park card club.
The gambling club was approved by city voters in November but has not been built and is not yet licensed by the state.
“Balancing the budget on poker chips that may never be minted is not wise,” said resident Michael Triggs, a longtime opponent of the card club.
Despite the criticism, however, the council gave little attention to the idea of borrowing against future revenues that may not materialize.
Instead, Hardeman and Tabor aimed their rhetorical fire in the direction of Eckles. Mayor Edward Vincent and Councilman Anthony Scardenzan defended Eckles and his plan, saying the two dissenting council members did not spend enough time studying the issue.
But when Councilman Jose Fernandez sided with Hardeman and Tabor, the five council members agreed they would delay the vote on any cost-cutting measures until Eckles returned with a new plan.