Capital budget approved

After months of effort, the City Council took just over an hour Tuesday to adopt a ten-year capital improvement budget, with funding for a new library and reconstructed fire station for Montrose.

The $167 million spending program covers the next ten years, though estimated spending beyond the five-year mark is subject to likely changes as the council adopts each year's capital budget.

The funding for Montrose remained at earlier discussed levels, including $11 million for a new library and $5.5 million for the reconstruction of fire station 29.

Also included was $4 million for purchase of the Rockhaven property, the likely location for the new library, and an added $2 million for various property improvements.

The city is currently in negotiations to buy the property, so that figure will likely increase if a deal is reached.

Not in the budget are specific funds for two other local projects, the purchase of the Mountain Oaks property and an effort to acquire the Verdugo Hills Golf Course, though both remain possibilities. There remain undesignated funds in the budget for open space and new parks.

Pressure to improve local recreation facilities remains, with the city to name citizen groups to look into soccer field expansion and a new city swim stadium.

The council did agree to move up planning funds for two proposed soccer fields on city owned property next to the Glendale Sports Center. Also budgeted is funding for a soccer field at Columbus School, which would be built after the school district rebuilds the school.

Councilman Bob Yousefian said he was dissatisfied with only three soccer fields in ten years, saying the need was more like 40 fields. Estimated cost per field is about $5 million, not including land.

He asked for the citizen group to study funding possibilities. Not to be outdone, Mayor Ara Najarian, chief advocate for a community swim stadium, asked for a group to study his “little red wagon.”

The council did have to adopt a series of budget maneuvers to keep the budget in balance, including the creation of an $11 million liability reserve to meet pending legal issues, including a settlement for storm damage from 2005.

With barely a breather, the council will start later this month on the budget planning process for 2008-2009.

City Manager James Starbird said city revenues will be relatively free from impact in the stage budget negotiations, though some transit funding could be lost. The League of California Cities managed to pass a ballot measure to protect city revenues from being raided by state budget makers. Glendale is looking at a $200,000 shortfall in sales tax this year due to the economic slowdown.

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