City Council approves final budget

The Huntington Beach City Council has approved a $312.3-million budget that requires a small number of layoffs and the elimination of services and open positions.

"The road to get here has been a long, hard road," City Manager Fred Wilson said at Tuesday night's council meeting.

To balance the budget, the city reduced staffing and expenses by $4.5 million, and eliminated or stopped funding 38.5 staffing positions, said Director of Finance Lori Ann Farrell.

There will be eight layoffs citywide.

City staffing has been reduced by 15% compared with the levels of three years ago, according to a report.

Councilman Devin Dwyer said he would have liked to see more cuts, but nonetheless expressed satisfaction with the city's effort to balance the budget.

To save money, Huntington Beach has outsourced its public works services, eliminated day camps at Central Park, reduced animal control and federal lobbyist contracts, reduced aquarium and Pier Plaza maintenance, cut some of the library's database subscriptions and renegotiated employee contracts.

The Police Department is also seeing lower staffing numbers. The city has eliminated five police officers and one lieutenant position.

The budget also factors in $1 million for equipment replacement funding, $29.7 million in proposed capital improvement funds and $1.3 million for street repairs.

The budget includes almost $7 million to keep Huntington Beach participating in the state redevelopment agency (RDA) program.

While sales and hotel bed taxes are expected to slightly increase next year, the city has set aside $581,000 in case of a "double-dip" recession or additional cuts from the state, Farrell said.

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