La Cañada cuts some checks for community groups, public projects

La Cañada Flintridge City Council members gave the green light to a variety of public projects and doled out money to several community groups on Monday while keeping the budget for the next year relatively conservative.

City staff recommended that council members approve a $11.2-million budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year, supported by $13.6 million in reserves.

Mayor Laura Olhasso was comfortable enough with that financial cushion to recommend increasing projected property tax revenues for the year by $12,900. The city raked in $3.9 million in property tax revenue over the past fiscal year, and city staffers expect a similar outcome for the next year.

Officials did not need to reach into the city's reserves to fund the fiscal year that begins on July 1.

Funding for projects include:

  • $1.05 million for street resurfacing, partially funded by federal grants.
  • $125,000 to improve storm drains on Padres Trail and Chevy Chase Drive.
  • $42,000 to install a raised median at Chevy Chase Drive and Figueroa Street.
  • $27,500 for computer-operated water management systems on two city sites as part of an effort to eventually have all city-owned properties on the system.
  • $3.7 million to install three sound walls along the Foothill (210) Freeway, funded by a Measure R grant.
  • $60,000 to pay a communications firm to create newsletters and help the city with its outreach to the public.
  • $5,300 for carpeting and $22,800 for lighting-control equipment at Lanterman Auditorium.
  • $102,000 to fund a special-assignment deputy position within the Crescenta Valley Sheriff's Department to assist with the recent increase in residential burglaries.
  • $75,000 to evaluate the slow traffic signals on Foothill Boulevard and Angeles Crest Highway.

Eleven community groups received funding for new projects and reoccurring costs. Most were approved, though several organizations received less than they asked for.

Tyler Wright, president and chief executive of YMCA of the Foothills, made a unique request: He wanted $30,000 to jump-start two programs at the center that would address recent tragedies.

In May 2012, a 6-year-old drowned in her backyard pool during Memorial Day weekend. On March 1, a senior at La Cañada High School died after jumping from the third floor of a building on campus.

"They've caused a sense of crisis not only within our community, but within the organization," Wright said of the incidents. "And so your YMCA, your staff and your volunteers are rising up. We're rising up with intentionality and we're rising up with cause."

This fall, Wright intends to launch an initiative that will teach children under the age of 6 how to swim. Another initiative, he said, will tackle the rising pressures that students face in academic and social situations.

Originally, the center requested the funds for chaplain services, but the city rejected the proposal due to a conflict of church and state. YMCA officials then altered their request, which was approved by the council.

The Community Center of La Cañada Flintridge touted increases in youth, adult and senior programs, as well as a successful year of fundraising. The center received $26,500 — slightly above the amount it received last year — of which $8,500 will fund an electrical upgrade.

The center had requested funds for refilling supplies and cleaning the center's restrooms, which are used by sports teams who play on nearby fields. But the city's 2013-14 budget already included $5,350 for modifying an entry door to the center so the restrooms could be accessed by youth athletic groups after the center closes. City staff also agreed to look at ways to help the center with the upkeep of the restrooms.

Deb Jordan, the center's executive director, told the council that 75% of people who use the restrooms are not involved with the Community Center. "That's a big number; thousands," she said.

The La Cañada Flintridge Coordinating Council, the One City One Book program, the Leisure Club, Descanso Gardens Guild, the La Cañada High School Music Parents Association, La Cañada Valley Beautiful and the La Cañada Flintridge Tournament of Roses Association all received various funding amounts totaling nearly $40,000.

Lanterman House Historical Museum Foundation, which operates the museum on Encinas Drive, requested $93,400 but received $42,225.

The La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce and Community Association received the highest amount of funding among the community groups — $100,000.


Follow Tiffany Kelly on Google+ and on Twitter: @LATiffanyKelly.

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