CITY HALL — Gary Bric ascended to mayor of Burbank on Friday, with Councilwoman Anja Reinke taking his previously held seat as vice mayor.
In a reorganization ceremony full of hearty welcomes to newly elected Councilman Jess Talamantes and tender farewells to outgoing Councilwoman Marsha Ramos, Bric, a restaurateur entering his third year in office, assumed the center seat on the dais before thanking a host of family, friends and business associates in the audience.
“I do have a few comments, but I’ll try to keep them short. I do know we have a two-hour limitation on parking,” he said to laughter.
But chuckles gave way to a sober realization that the budget season was upon City Hall. City leaders alluded to imminent challenges facing the city as the council prepares to adopt a budget. The city manager’s office has asked department heads to cut 5% from their draft budgets for the coming fiscal year in order to bridge a projected $7.2-million deficit in 2009-10. That figure could grow to $15 million by 2012-13.
“We have a lot of work to do, and I am ready to move forward,” Bric said.
He then took the gavel, newly engraved with his name, and asked for nominations for vice mayor. Despite some speculation that the title and responsibility would go to Councilman David Gordon, the second-most senior member, Councilmen Dave Golonski and Talamantes expressed early support for Reinke, who was quickly named to the post.
“Some of the best people in this community are in this room right now,” she said. “And some of them are seated right here at this very dais.”
Reinke thanked family and supporters before pledging to continue offering an ear to the community.
“Everybody has special causes that they want to propel in this community, and that’s what’s great about having five different people up here because everybody has something different,” she said.
The council, before changing leadership and welcoming Talamantes, hosted farewells to Golonski’s mayoral term and Ramos, who left the council after eight years to spend more time with her family and working at her business.
City Manager Mike Flad presented Golonski with the customary plaque and photograph before reading from a list of accomplishments, including a continued push toward sustainability. The council last year pledged to put Burbank on a path to becoming a zero-waste city, conserving water, composting and buying green.
“I just want to thank you personally, Dave,” Bric said. “I mean the last two years I’ve been like a little puppy dog walking behind Dave Golonski. He has taught me so much. I called to pick his brain, and what knowledge I have up here is because of [him].”
Gordon, who has historically butted heads with Golonski, also offered flattering words.
“Well, I can’t say ‘Goodbye, Mr. Golonski,’” Gordon said. “But I have to say a few things that I don’t think very many people realize. I started getting involved with community affairs back in the late ’80s, and I can remember very clearly an image on the wall of a younger Mayor Golonski.
“He really did stimulate a lot of involvement in the community and actually was a model in the community,” he said. “I hope people in the community don’t confuse discussion of issues and divergence of opinions as meaning we can’t work together. It’s simply not true.”
The city’s tribute to Ramos, complete with a 10-minute video montage, stretched over 10 single-spaced pages of accomplishments. Flad closed his remarks by calling her the heart, soul and moral compass of the city.
“From the bottom of my heart, I hope you enjoy some time with your family and your business and go back to enjoying life,” Bric said. “I personally want to say thank you for everything you’ve ever done for this city.”
Moved to tears, Ramos bid adieu to city staff and the council before welcoming Talamantes.
“Wow, you guys are amazing,” she said. “It’s easy to go out there and talk about the city of Burbank because this community is great and the staff is what makes it happen. I look at Jess and I think, what more perfect — expect he’s not female — person for me to pass the torch to?”
City Clerk Margarita Campos, City Treasurer Donna Anderson and Burbank Unified School District Board of Education incumbents Larry Applebaum and Debbie Kutka also took the oath of office Friday.
The council meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, followed by a 3 p.m. goal-setting workshop planned for Thursday in the Community Services Building Community Room, 150 N. Third St.
CHRISTOPHER CADELAGO covers City Hall and the courts. He may be reached at (818) 637-3242 or by e-mail at christopher.cadelago@ latimes.com.