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Council approves proposed budget

Ben Godar

The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve a

proposed budget for the 2003-04 fiscal year that makes cuts in a

variety of areas in order to make up for a projected $9.5-million

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deficit.

After approving the budget, Councilman Dave Golonski encouraged

all city officials to begin preparing for next year’s expected cuts

immediately.

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“The more time we have to find ways to deliver services, the more

creative ways we can find to meet the challenges in front of us,” he

said.

The deficit is the result of a variety of factors, including

increasing costs in employee compensation and benefits as well as

general liability and workers’ compensation costs. Each department

head was instructed to cut up to 10% from their respective budgets,

and they presented their recommendations to the council in May.

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A total of 62 full-time positions are being eliminated, and

Management Services Director John Nicoll said 50 of those positions

are already vacant. Ten of the remaining employees are above

retirement age and were offered a supplemental retirement package. To

lessen the effect on the two remaining employees to be laid off, the

council opted to fund their positions for an additional six months.

Among the fee increases are a $10 jump in the cost of adopting a

previously altered dog and a $15 jump in the cost for dogs altered by

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the city. Monthly parking permits will increase in cost from $20 to

$24, while film permits will go from $200 to $300.

Despite a series of discussions on the proposed cuts, council

members still found budget points to tinker with at Tuesday’s

meeting.

Councilwoman Marsha Ramos proposed, and council members agreed, to

continue to fund a probation-officer position at the Burbank Outreach

Center that had been targeted for elimination. The position is half

funded by the city and half by the county, with the city paying

$60,000 annually, City Manager Mary Alvord said. The council agreed

to continue funding the position, but reserved the right to

reconsider if the county withdraws its funding.

Following a public hearing last week, the council also agreed to

eliminate a proposed hike in the transient-parking tax from the

budget. To fund that and other additions to the originally proposed

budget, the city will use $1.49 million set aside from recent

electric-rate increases by Burbank Water and Power.

While the cuts will balance the city’s budget, it does not include

any potential funding reductions from the state, which is also facing

a significant deficit. Mayor Stacey Murphy said much of the city’s

planning for the future will depend on how much the state cuts its

funding.

“There’s not much use in going far down the road until we hear

what the state is going to do to us,” she said.


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