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Cuts might include fire station

Josh Kleinbaum

Just a few days after Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected governor in a

special recall election, Burbank city officials are already

considering what services might have to be cut as a result of the


governor-elect’s policies.

One of Schwarzenegger’s prominent campaign promises was to roll

back the vehicle-license fee, which outgoing Gov. Gray Davis tripled

to help offset the state’s $38-billion budget deficit. But much of


that fee goes to local governments; Burbank gets $6.1 million from

those fees. The city would lose about $4 million of that total.

“If he takes that away, there’s a big hole in our budget,”

Councilman Todd Campbell said. Campbell said the city would be forced

to slash services if it loses its portion of the vehicle-license fee.

Cuts could range from reducing programs in the parks and recreation

department to eliminating a fire station.

“People will feel the cuts, and notice that there’s a difference


in our level of services,” Vice Mayor Marsha Ramos said. “We have a

reputation of providing stellar services, but services will certainly

still be adequate.”

But city officials said repealing the vehicle-license fee is not a

done deal. While Schwarzenegger and other prominent Republicans are

saying the governor-elect can, some Democrats in Sacramento say he

cannot do it without approval of the Legislature, and Ramos said she

has heard that several cities will challenge the governor’s right to


strip cities of local money.

“We’re in kind of a wait-and-see,” Assistant Financial Services

Director Bob Elliot said. “If it does get repealed, it would

definitely put a dent in our revenues.”

Council members are already contemplating how they would offset

that dent. The City Council has not met since Schwarzenegger was

elected Tuesday, but Ramos said city staff and the council discussed

worst-case scenario cuts, including eliminating a fire station,

during budget deliberations in the spring. Those cuts could be put in

place now.

“We are somewhat prepared,” Ramos said. “For some of the cities

out there, [the vehicle-license fee] is a substantial source of

revenue. How they’re going to survive, I don’t know.”