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City budget passed 4-1

Barbara Diamond

Mayor Wayne Baglin proposed a compromise Tuesday that funded projects

dear to the hearts of council members on either end of the dais, leading

to the approval of the 2002-03 budget.

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Baglin suggested tapping the defunct Laguna Flood Channel Project fund

for $100,000 to begin work on the Village Entrance, and for $50,000 more

to move the Lifeguard Headquarters to a more advantages site.

The suggestion was an attempt to reconcile differences in conflicting

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proposals presented by Councilman Paul Freeman and Councilwoman Cheryl

Kinsman for the allocation of estimated funds from increased parking

meter fees.

“I would love to see a budget we could all vote for,” Baglin said.

He couldn’t quite pull off the unanimous vote, but a 4-1 council

majority approved the city’s $47-million budget, which included the

$30.6-million general fund, for fiscal year 2002-03. Baglin’s support was

a reversal of the opposition to the budget he expressed at the June 18

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meeting. Kinsman dissented.

“The city is getting different allocation of funds than I would have

liked,” Kinsman said. “I would proceed more quickly with infrastructure

items that we are neglecting.”

However, Kinsman approved of allocations of $100,000 for the Village

Entrance, which many people feel is integral to corporation yard

improvements, and the full amount needed to keep Laguna current with the

El Toro Reuse Planning Authority, which had been underfunded by $50,000

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in the draft budget.

Freeman succeeded in keeping in the budget his proposal for a $250,000

grant to the Laguna Beach Community Clinic and a $100,000 grant to the

Boys and Girls Club, to be funded from increases in the parking meter

fees, which Kinsman would have reduced in favor of other allocations.

“I’m for the higher amount for the club because they are looking at a

challenge grant from the Crean Family and their request is time

sensitive,” Freeman said. “The clinic also has some time-sensitive

opportunities, so it is important to show this kind of support.”

The increase in parking meter fees will not affect residents as much

as tourists. Residential parking sticker fees were not increased. The

council also had previously approved an increase in the sewer rates.

The approved budget provides emergency services, trash collection on a

regular basis, cultural and community programs, sewage disposal, new

parks and the upkeep of old ones, street repaving, street lighting, a

city Web page, tree maintenance and public art.

“In my opinion, we have the resources to invest each year in

infrastructure and at the same time address broader community needs,

particularly one-time capital opportunities,” Freeman said.

Chamber of Commerce President Len Weinstein thanked the council for

the $45,000 grant it received, while 15 residents pleaded their special

causes.

“We need a procedure for community grants so everyone knows how it is

done,” said Laguna Beach Taxpayers Assn. President Gary Alstot.

Community organizations apply for the grants. Some make it into the

draft budget, most are funded from the $230,000 Community Assistant Fund.

Each year the council designates a subcommittee to review the requests

and make recommendations. Mayor Baglin and Councilwoman Toni Iseman

served on the committee for the 2002-03 budget.

Other residents pleaded for support for capital improvements in South

Laguna, a consistent citywide, tree-maintenance program, opposition to

planting more trees and sewer rates based on water usage, rather than

uniform fees. About 15 residents spoke at the meeting, none of whom flat

out opposed the budget.

The budget is prepared by the city manager in April and presented to

the council and public in May. One or more workshops may be scheduled at

the discretion of the council. A balanced budget must be approved by July

1.


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