Projects hope to make the cut

CITY HALL — The first in a series of meetings to set funding priorities and allocations for the next fiscal year is set to start Tuesday as the City Council considers a list of 12 projects totaling more than $17 million.

City officials will be looking for the council to prioritize the list of requests for federal funds that will be pitched to Rep. Adam Schiff and Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer for appropriation.

Every February, the city lobbies for a share of the federal budget to help offset the costs of mostly multimillion-dollar capital improvement projects.

The list can be wide-ranging, giving lawmakers a smorgasbord of potential funding opportunities — from a $1.1-million literacy program for infants to 3-year-olds through the Glendale library system, to a $2-million heavy-lift helicopter capable of dumping water payloads on regional wildfires, according to a city report detailing the requests.

Mayor Ara Najarian is scheduled to be in Washington, D.C., Feb. 27 and 28 to lobby for whatever top priorities the council sets on the list Tuesday night.

“It shows a level of commitment from the city,” he said. “It's just a sales pitch, really.”

The stakes are high for those relying entirely on the grant request to fund their programs, city officials said.

About half of the requests the City Council will be prioritizing Tuesday are at or near the entire program cost on a list that pits synthetic turf for Pacific Park against battery backup systems for city traffic signals, according to city reports.

A $1-million request to fund Bright Start Glendale — a library program that would provide parents of newborns at Glendale Memorial Hospital with literacy gifts and follow-up programs for children up to 3 — makes up almost the entire cost of the program.

“We've got our fingers crossed,” said Theresa Robinett, manager of the Central Library's Children's Room. “It'll be interesting to see what happens.”

Glendale public safety officials are also seeking the full $2-million purchase cost for a heavy-lift helicopter that would also serve Pasadena and Burbank through a joint-use and maintenance agreement, according to city reports. The military-grade helicopter would be able to drop personnel for SWAT missions, transport equipment, assist with rescues and drop water on regional wildfires, Glendale Police Capt. Ray Edey said.

Some on the list have essentially doubled their chances for getting a funding source by submitting the same funding request at the state level. If Tuesday's list is approved as is, parks officials will have an application for $102,500 to start a study on connecting Glendale's river walk with Los Angeles' across the Golden State (5) Freeway with both governments.

“It's sort of a backup,” said Marc Stirdivant, a senior administrative analyst for the city. “In our instance, we gave this a high priority.”

A Glendale Water & Power request for $1.2 million to help pay for an $8-million multi-agency effort to clean chromium-6 from the San Fernando Valley groundwater basin has already been logged with the state, water officials said.

Even with detailed needs assessments and sales pitches from city officials, the chances of all the projects being funded are slim, city officials said.

Over the past five years, the city has received just $4 million in federal appropriations, according to city reports.

Tuesday's meeting might be considered a primer for the council since it will have to prepare to make tougher decisions later. Funding recommendations from the Community Development Block Grant Advisory Committee, in which a tighter budget saw reduced federal allotments to nearly a dozen local nonprofits, could come before the council later this month for final approval. And a long list of multimillion-dollar, citywide capital improvement projects will be up for final determinations a short time after that, Najarian said.

“We're going to be having a lot of tough decisions ahead of us,” he said.

The City Council will take up the list of funding requests at its meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, in council chambers, 613 E. Broadway.


?JASON WELLS covers City Hall. He may be reached at (818) 637-3235 or by e-mail at jason.wells@latimes.com.

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