The still uncertain impact of losing local redevelopment has prompted a major reshuffling of job titles and salaries at Burbank City Hall.
Burbank’s redevelopment agency had directly funded 25 full-time employees, said Community Development Director Greg Hermann during a City Council meeting on Tuesday.
But with the state axing redevelopment agencies to help fund its own multi-billion-dollar budget gap, Burbank had to get creative and appears to have avoided lay-offs, even as its neighbor, Glendale, braces for what could possibly be a wave of pink slips.
“A number of the 25 positions were vacant. We knew what we were facing, and purposely didn’t fill the vacant positions,” Hermann said in an interview.
Of the 19 people in the Community Development Department’s new housing and Housing and Economic Division, 12 positions were formerly tied to the Redevelopment Agency, Hermann said.
“We tried to maintain as many functions as we could, we looked at what programs should be continued that serve the entire city,” he added.
There are about eight people “we are defining new roles for in economic development and real estate, but there are no more redevelopment activities or programs,” Hermann said.
In May, the Civil Service Board approved the retooled titles and job duties for five positions in the new Housing and Economic Division under the Community Development Department.
Deputy City Manager Joy Forbes has said Burbank was not anticipating the layoffs that have been seen in other cities because of budget shortfalls, citing the fact that the city was in better economic shape than last year.
Financial Services Director Cindy Giraldo echoed those sentiments in her budget presentation to the council this week.
She cited Burbank’s conservative fiscal approach and policies in helping the city “weather the storm.”
Still, other budget discussions this week touched on what is expected to be the continued need to cut spending through 2017 due to the increase in employee pension costs.
Councilman Jess Talamantes said he thought the city was “going in the right direction,” given the economic times and forecasts, and supported the proposed budget.
But Councilman David Gordon expressed concern about the continued utility rate increases, no matter how small, saying the costs multiply and hit ratepayers in their pocket books.
A public hearing is scheduled Tuesday at City Hall for proposed utility rate increases.
The budget is expected to be adopted June 19 after a final discussion.