In her State of the City address on Wednesday, Burbank Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy reminded the audience about the inspiring stories that have come out of the city.
However, she also addressed the possibility that Burbank’s future may be a story that may have some difficult times if the systemic budget deficit is not addressed.
Hundreds of business and community members gathered in the convention center at the Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Airport to hear the two-time mayor give an update on how the city has been doing over the past year.
Gabel-Luddy touched on how businesses and companies such as Porto’s Bakery, Cartoon Network, Blizzard Entertainment and Nickelodeon have thrived in Burbank.
Additionally, she said the city recently tallied more than 3.5 million tourists during the last fiscal year, during which about $830 million was spent at local businesses.
However, Gabel-Luddy said she and her colleagues on the City Council are working to address several concerns — including the budget, housing, economic development, governance as well as traffic and parking — to ensure that visitors and businesses come and stay in Burbank.
Understanding that the city needs more housing, she reminded the audience that the First Street Village project in the downtown area will have 275 apartments, while the long-awaited Talaria development in the Media District will have 241 apartments that will soon be available.
“Still, there is a tremendous demand for additional housing of all kinds within our city,” Gabel-Luddy said.
Though much is being done to increase the housing stock, the mayor said Burbank is still facing a tough budget deficit, which is projected to be about $14.2 million by the 2022-23 fiscal year.
City officials have already taken several measures to ease the financial pain, such as enacting a six-month hiring freeze and creating savings initiatives — such as having all employees pay half of their pension costs, implementing a cost-recovery policy and compensating employees at a market rate.
However, Gabel-Luddy said more needs to be done to address the roughly $9.5 million, long-term operating deficit and the $18 million needed for infrastructure repairs and maintenance.
To get a handle on the budget, the Burbank City Council voted to place Measure P on the Nov. 6 ballot.
The measure is a proposed general-purpose, three-quarter-cent sales tax, which, if approved, would generate about $20 million annually for the city.
“Without the passage of Measure P, the city will face substantial cuts, including reductions to police and fire protection, paramedics, street maintenance and pothole repair,” Gabel-Luddy said. “After-school and senior programs will also be affected, as well as the closure of several parks and libraries. Basically, it is a choice about the future of our city and what kind of Burbank we would like to be. How do we want our future story to be read years from now?”
The mayor added that the City Council is in the process of creating a new infrastructure oversight board to make sure the funds generated by Measure P, if approved, are spent properly.