City seeks new job center

Glendale News Press

CITY HALL — City Council members this week criticized the building that houses the Verdugo Jobs Center as a wasteful use of federal funding, pushing officials to find a cheaper alternative within two years, when the lease is up.

The city leases the 25,000-square-foot building at 1255 S. Central Ave. for $22,000 per month to house the center, which provides employment assistance to out-of-work residents in the Burbank-Glendale-Crescenta Valley region.

The California Employment Development Department pays the property owner an additional $17,000 each month for use of the building.

On Tuesday, the council urged city officials to find a more cost-effective location, perhaps at a city-owned property, when the lease is up in early 2013.

With the city's unemployment rate holding at above 10%, council members said they were disappointed that more than $250,000 a year has gone to the lease.

"That's money that could have been spent on training rather than paying the landlord's mortgage," said City Councilman Frank Quintero. "I absolutely think we should be looking around and getting creative to find another location, because this is a stone loser."

The discussion took place at a joint meeting of the City Council and Glendale Housing Authority as officials reviewed the use of federal funds in the next fiscal year.

Jess Duran, assistant director of the Community Services & Parks Department, said officials had previously looked into using the old police building for the center, but decided the site could not handle the additional parking burden.

The refurbished police building will instead soon host the Economic Development and Housing Department and the Community Planning Department according to the recent reorganization of city departments.

Duran also said the city is continuing to experience "unprecedented activity" at the jobs center, with between 8,000 and 9,000 monthly visits for employment services, job placement assistance and career counseling.

The surge in attendance is a stark difference from three years ago, when the center needed only about half of the building's current space, Duran said.

Now, "it's fully occupied, in fact we could probably use more," he said

The center is enjoying a surge of federal stimulus funds, but that could drop 50% by 2012, Duran said.

The fluctuations in attendance and funding will pose a challenge in finding a new location, as will the parking situation, he added. The current center has 150 parking spaces.

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