HUNTINGTON BEACH : Council Allots Money for 8 More Officers

The City Council has agreed to spend $623,000 to hire eight more police officers. The decision came as part of the council's 4 to 2 vote Monday to adopt a $96-million general fund budget for 1994-95 that includes a plan to cover a $783,024 revenue shortfall.

The deficit occurred when the council moved to restore proposed cuts to public safety as well as funding reductions in the senior, recreation and community programs.

Mayor Linda Moulton Patterson and Councilmen Jim Silva, Victor Leipzig and Dave Sullivan voted to adopt the budget. Council members Ralph Bauer and Grace Winchell cast the opposing votes. Councilman Earle Robitaille left the meeting before the vote.

To cover the shortfall, the council majority agreed to increase fees for unspecified services, make additional cutbacks in services other than public safety, or take money from the city's $6.5-million reserve fund. The council will decide in January which action to take.

Police Chief Ronald E. Lowenberg hailed the council's approval to add more police on the streets and to spare his department nearly $667,000 in budget cuts that had been proposed under the budget prepared by city staffers.

Lowenberg said adding more officers to the 229-member force will improve response times and increase the number of officers available for emergency calls.

Under the new budget, a controversial plan to change the delivery of paramedic services will be scrapped and three firefighter positions will be restored.

The council also approved a library card fee of $20 a year for people who live outside the city, which is expected to raise about $200,000. Members voted to spend 60%, or up to $120,000 of the revenue to buy new library books. A $15 parking fine increase was also approved, effective Oct. 1, to raise more than $500,000 in new revenue.

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