Police draft budget cuts

CITY HALL — The Burbank Police Department on Tuesday proposed $1.87 million in budget cuts, which include suspending its helicopter program, eliminating positions and reducing animal shelter hours.

The proposals, whose savings range from $1.1 million to $65,000 each, include suspending the joint air support program with Glendale and eliminating two school resource officers and one parking control officer. They also call for slashing two animal control officers and one kennel attendant while curtailing the shelter’s hours Wednesday through Saturday.

City officials are working to close a $5.8-million budget shortfall though business-process improvements, service-level reductions, fee increases and money that’s been set aside from better years.

Police Chief Scott LaChasse proposed to fund the $1.1-million joint helicopter program for one year through city reserves. Under the agreement, Burbank must give a one-year notice to Glendale before withdrawing from the helicopter program.

“[It’s] an asset where the city has not received its due return on investment,” LaChasse said.

Citywide, suggested cuts include freezing three firefighter positions, reducing library hours on weeknights and Saturdays and slashing Got Wheels!, a bus service dedicated to youth aged 10 to 18.

“I think people are looking at those though a much different lens with such a high unemployment rate,” City Manager Mike Flad told the City Council.

Rather than having one officer assigned to each high school and middle school, LaChasse’s proposed budget would retain one officer at each Burbank and Burroughs high schools, but assign a single officer to the three middle school campuses. And reductions to the animal shelter hours could result in a dramatic reduction in the number of pets housed there, he said.

In addition to the cuts, LaChasse has requested an increase in some areas, including $239,500 to cover arrestee medical services and $217,852 to reinstate a police captain position.

The chief has also proposed a number of fee increases, including bumping parking citations by $5, and increasing animal adoption fees by $20. A new single-day filming permit would cost $150.

LaChasse has the option to promote a captain from within or hire from the outside, as the city did for Deputy Chief Tom Angel, a retired chief from Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and Capt. Mike Albanese, a retired lieutenant from the Los Angeles Police Department.

“It would be a fully funded position, which I think is necessary right now with the administrative items that we need to address,” LaChasse said. “We need a person of a high caliber at that rank level of the organization to make things happen.”

City Atty. Dennis Barlow is requesting $294,169 to fund an additional in-house attorney and legal assistant, a position necessary because of the Police Department morass. Outside attorneys bill the city $250 to $300 per hour, versus the $100 an hour, including city benefits, that would be paid to the employee.

“We’re suggesting that the city could save a substantial amount of money bringing in another attorney and a support legal secretary to handle some of the current cases as well as some of the ones that we are expecting,” Barlow said.

The city attorney’s office is also requesting $2,500 after seeing a significant increase in motions filed by criminal defense attorneys to have the court examine an officer’s personnel record to determine whether anything could make their court testimony untrustworthy.

While the office used to get six or seven of the motions a month, it now sees upward of 10 per week, Barlow said.

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