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Council rejects parking tax hike

Ben Godar

Only a half dozen people voiced concerns about the city’s proposed

budget during Tuesday night’s public hearing, but City Council

members agreed with some of the speakers and recommended to remove a

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proposed increase to the transient-parking tax.

The hearing gave the public a chance to respond to proposed cuts

as the city braces for a projected $9.5-million deficit in the

2003-04 fiscal year budget. Each department was asked to bring the

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council recommendations as to how it would cut up to 10% of its

budget.

Burbank Chamber of Commerce President Bud Alleman was the first to

take issue with the proposal to raise the transient-parking tax. He

said increasing the tax, which primarily affects hotels and parking

lots near the airport, was a bad idea at a time when a price war is

going on between airport and privately owned parking lots.

“To raise the tax because the tax base has decreased seems

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illogical,” he said.

Alleman also said Measure N, which allowed the council to raise

the tax, was passed by so slight a margin -- 47 votes -- that raising

the tax did not come with a clear mandate.

Following public comment, council members, including Jef Vander

Borght, agreed that the economic climate at the parking lots around

the airport make it a bad time to increase the tax.

“To add this tax is only going to aggravate the problem, and I

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feel it could add another nail in the coffin of the small

businesses,” he said.

No formal vote was taken on the issue of the parking tax, but

based on the comments of the council, Financial Services Director

Derek Hanway recommended money set aside from Burbank Water & Power

increases be substituted for the estimated $300,000 in revenue from

the rate increase.

Councilman Dave Golonski, the only member of the council to voice

support for the increase, said with state and local projections

suggesting budget cuts will be necessary for years to come, the city

needs to focus on recurring methods of funding such as the tax

increase.

“We can continue to take money out of the BWP set aside, but

there’s an issue of recurring versus non-recurring,” he said.

Council members did not direct city staff to make any other

changes to the proposed budget, which is expected to be adopted at

its June 17 meeting.


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