Budget woes linger into 2011

CITY HALL — As City Hall braces for another multi-million budget deficit next fiscal year, city officials say they probably won't have to make any cuts until then.

City Manager Jim Starbird had warned that the City Council may be forced to re-open the budget after the General Fund, which pays for most public services, finished with a $5.2 million deficit despite nearly $10 million in cuts.

The warning came at the same time the City Council learned it would likely face a shortfall of as much as $8 million next fiscal year as the tab for employee pensions continues to skyrocket.

City officials attributed much of the 2009-10 yearend deficit to revenues — ranging from sales and property tax receipts to construction and permit fees — that came in millions below where expected, prompting fears that the same could happen mid-year.

But Finance Director Bob Elliot last week said that after a thorough analysis of revenues received so far this year, he didn't see a need for additional cuts.

"We're not proposing any changes at this time, although we are really monitoring the budget, probably closer than I ever have in my career," he said.

So far this year, the city has taken in $26.7 million in General Fund revenues, which is $1.1 million more than the same time last year.

Finance officials will have a better idea of this year's revenue situation after receiving the city's first installment of property tax revenues this month.

Last year, Glendale took in roughly $1.4 million less in property tax revenues than the prior year, due mostly to an above average delinquency rate.

A variety of budget balancing moves approved by the City Council for this year and an ongoing hiring citywide freeze that has kept about 80 positions vacant is expected to help fill any holes left by stagnant revenues.

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