Burbank poised to adopt budget with $2.5 million in cuts

The City Council is slated to adopt a $149-million General Fund budget next week that includes $2.5 million in cuts and fee increases to various services.

With the adjustments and a projected 1% increase in sales and property tax revenues, officials project a $4 million surplus in the fund that pays for most public services by the end of this coming fiscal year.

The proposed budget tackles soaring employee pension costs with a one-time allocation of $9 million to help pay down the city’s $252-million unfunded pension liability — a move that would save Burbank $720,000 each year, officials said.

“We’re hopeful, somewhat optimistic, as we go forward that we’ll see some increased revenue,” said Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy.

In a 3-2 vote, the City Council approved raising sewer and trash-hauling rates by 2%, with Councilmen Dave Gordon and Bob Frutos dissenting.

Higher costs for customers of Burbank Water and Power — which operates under its own budget — are also in store.

A 4.75% water rate hike is due to the higher cost of imports from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Under the new structure, a household using 15,000 gallons of water per month — enough to accommodate a large single-family home “with a pool and gardens,” much more than the average household — would jump $2.90 from $64.35 a month, said Ron Davis, general manager of Burbank Water and Power.

Resident Catherine Adamic protested the rate increases in a letter to the council, urging officials to “look at your internal costs, including employee pay rates and retirement contributions, and stop passing those costs on to the homeowners in Burbank.”

The council will decide on the remaining proposed fee hikes — including a 1.75% increase in electric rates — on Tuesday.

State mandates to increase the use of renewable energy, which is more costly, are driving the electric bill hikes, Davis said.

Under the proposal, a 550 kilowatt-hour monthly electric bill would go up $1.53 to $90.24 as the utility continues to reduce its dependence on coal and bolster its renewable energy profile.

There are other fee increases proposed for more specialized services.

Production studios that use off-duty police and fire officials to assist on filming sets will see $19 and $5 hourly rate increases, respectively. If the proposal is approved, it will cost $109 an hour to hire off-duty police officers and $95 an hour to hire off-duty fire officials.

Additionally, the permit fee to film at the Starlight Bowl for four to eight hours will more than double — from $2,000 to $5,000.

A number of businesses — including Christmas tree dealers and those running kennels, massage parlors or theaters — will be see 2% increases to license and permit fees.

Officials are also proposing introducing a concealed weapons permit fee of $100.


Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.


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