City to start budget hearings Monday

La Cañada Flintridge City Council members are expected to go to work next week on hammering out a city budget for the 2011-2012 fiscal year, which starts July 1.

Budget hearings are scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. on Monday and continue on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, carrying over into Thursday if necessary, said City Manager Mark Alexander.

Preliminary budget documents should become public this week, he said.

Monday’s and Tuesday’s hearings are expected to tackle operational expenses for city departments. Wednesday’s session is expected to deal with funding for additional programming and projects, including requests for funding from community-based groups.

While many cities and government agencies are struggling with recession-driven budget deficits, La Cañada enjoys approximately $14 million in fiscal reserves. During an April review of the city’s 2010-2011 budget, Finance Director Daniel Jordan projected narrow budget surpluses in the coming years.

Preliminary 2011-2012 budget documents were not released at press time, but “the information will be positive,” said Alexander.

At their regular meeting this week, City Council members voted without discussion to approve a number of contracts for the coming fiscal year.

The council approved a $26,527 study of how to make the city Planning Department’s permit review process more user-friendly for residents. Work would be done by consultants with Urban Futures Inc. and Hogle Ireland Inc., including former Arcadia City Manager Bill Kelly and former Irvine Planning Director Mike Thiele. The cost of the study, approved in concept during April’s budget review, will be split between this fiscal year’s budget and the next.

Council members also extended the city’s traffic engineering services contract. Its $125,000 annual price tag is the same amount as the city’s current contract, but is about 30% more than in previous years due to increased demands for service.

Officials also renewed the city’s contract for crossing guard services, increasing spending from $75,000 to $79,879 per year to accommodate La Cañada Elementary summer school classes.

The Pasadena Humane Society will continue to provide animal control services in the city with an $81,600 yearlong contract (up approximately 1.8% over last year), though pet licenses and other services fees are expected to reduce taxpayers’ costs to about $48,000.

The cost of janitorial services for city buildings and parks also slightly increased. The city will pay $1,824 per month for those services.

The price of contracts for street sweeping and trail maintenance held steady at $10,900 and $5,250 per month, respectively.

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