City to maintain healthy reserves

La Cañada Flintridge City Council members concluded four days of budget hearings with a decision Thursday to leave $14.1 million in the city’s general fund reserves for the 2011-2012 fiscal year.

The city’s current general fund reserves total $14.7 million, having grown by $1 million since July 2010 while many other cities were forced to raid reserves while cutting back programs and services.

If council members had decided to operate the city at an absolute bare-bones level over the next 12 months, projected revenues of $11.2 million would have added another $1 million to reserves.

Instead, council members decided to use that surplus, scale back reserves $600,000, and transfer $300,000 from other holding accounts to pay for a number of public projects and support various community activities.

Spending for projects includes:

– $530,000 for street resurfacing projects that are partially grant-funded

– $350,000 to put trash screens over 210 street drains to meet regulatory requirements

– $275,000 for maintenance for repairs to sidewalks, drains and bridges

– $200,000 to construct median islands on Oak Grove Drive, splitting the cost with Pasadena

– $80,000 for trail repairs

– $12,225 to renovate the women’s restroom at Lanterman Auditorium

Council members weren’t all that happy with some of that spending, in particular the Regional Water Quality Control Board’s requirement for drain screens.

“As hard as it is to swallow, I don’t know what option we have,” said Mayor Dave Spence, who despite the city’s strong fiscal position described the week’s choices as being “a tough budget year.”

Council members denied funding for a number of other possible projects, however, including:

– $210,000 for sidewalk bulb outs and warning lights for the crosswalk across Foothill at Union Avenue

– $90,000 to install a second right-turn lane onto Foothill Boulevard from Angeles Crest Highway

– $26,725 for other Lanterman Auditorium renovations

– $25,000 for a city welcome sign along Angeles Crest Highway, south of the Foothill Freeway entrance

– $18,000 for decorative street signs

Some of those choices were harder than others, said Councilman Donald Voss.

“We can’t tell residents that we’re not funding your important project, but we are funding this,” Voss said of the proposed city welcome sign.

Council members also held back on plans to initiate a citywide economic development program, an idea that comes back for discussion at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

As the Valley Sun reported Wednesday, 10 community groups and the La Cañada Unified School District received grants to fund local programs and other activities.

The school district’s was the largest grant, with $108,000 going to prevent the impending layoffs of two security guards at La Cañada High School.

The Chamber of Commerce received $100,000 for the annual Festival in Lights and other programs.

The Community Center of La Cañada Flintridge, Lanterman Historical Museum Foundation, LCF Tournament of Roses Associaiton, La Cañada Valley Beautiful, the Crescenta- Cañada YMCA, LCF Merchant Connection, LCHS Music Parents Association, Leisure Club of La Cañada Flintridge and the annual One City, One Book program received grants of various sizes that totaled more than $100,000.



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