Budget puts city in unfamiliar territory

Laura Sturza

Not since 1994 has the city had to consider cutting services or

laying off employees to balance the budget.

But a soft economy has dictated otherwise.


“This is a difficult budget year,” said Derek Hanway, the city’s

financial services director. “It’s been awhile since we’ve had to

face some reductions.”

As city department heads labor to close the gap on an anticipated


$9.5-million deficit for fiscal year 2003-04, the City Council

continues to ponder ways to cut the budget by 10%, Hanway said.

The council has until June 30 to adopt the estimated $405-million

spending plan.

Under proposals discussed this week during the first of three

budget study sessions at City Hall, as many as 10 city employees

could lose their jobs and another two dozen vacant positions could be

eliminated all together, Hanway said, adding that a proposed hiring


freeze could affect nearly 20 more jobs.

Additionally, some non-core services will likely be reduced, and

residents could pay 10 cents more per day in library fines, $2 more

to go swimming and $10 more to adopt a pet.

“Based on what is being proposed, I anticipate that the average

citizen will see minimal or no changes [to city services],”

Councilman Jef Vander Borght said following Tuesday’s study session.

The Northwest Library branch could eliminate its Saturday and


Tuesday evening hours as part of a plan to reduce services.

“There’s no way that you can eliminate positions and maintain the

types of services that we’re offering,” Library Services Director

Sharon Cohen said during the study session.

To counter reductions in revenue caused in part by low interest

rates, high insurance rates and declining transit occupancy taxes,

the Burbank Police Department is planning to increase film permit

fees from $200 to $300. That figure would still be about half of what

the city of Glendale charges, officials said.

The community development department, meanwhile, is proposing to

increase developer fees by $1,500, from $2,500 to $4,000, a rate that

is competitive with surrounding cities, Director Sue Georgino said.

The proposed budget cuts, however, do not address potential cuts

made by the state, which is dealing with a budget shortfall of about

$35 billion, Hanway said.