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Council budgets $143K to community projects, $470K from late Ralph Lipscomb’s gift

La Cañada Flintridge City Hall.

La Cañada Flintridge City Hall.

(Tim Berger / Staff Photographer)

An array of community projects on La Cañada’s wish list for fiscal year 2015-16 — amounting to $143,275 — were deemed doable Tuesday as officials crunched numbers during the city’s midyear budget review and learned they had exactly that much to spend.

Council members also approved a series of street improvements along Knight Way and Paulette Place, using most of a $500,000 bequest from the estate of the late Ralph Lipscomb, a longtime La Cañada resident whose will directed the funds be used on public works projects.

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In the midyear report, Director of Finance Daniel Jordan told council members that halfway into fiscal year 2015-16, La Cañada has seen a net increase of $111,900 in general fund revenues and a $31,375 decrease in expenditures.

Jordan reported nearly $12.8 million in revenue for this fiscal year, as well as about $11.9 million in total expenditures. He attributed some of the adjustments upward and downward to lower gasoline station tax receipts, higher insurance premiums and personnel savings.

“We have a lot of salary savings,” Jordan said, referring to the recent retirement of a few senior staffers. “We budgeted very conservatively on the personnel expenditures side, not knowing exactly what the final configuration of the planning department and administration department (would be). In doing so we were able to take those expenditures down somewhat.”

Council members were reacquainted with a list of projects and expenditures they’d identified as priorities, if funding became available, when the budget was passed in June.

Jordan explained the general fund dollars needed for those items would require a total of $143,275 — the exact amount found to be available in the midyear review “to the penny.”

With that money, the city can install an electric charging station for the Caltrans overpass parking lot across from City Hall, put underground electrical wiring at Memorial Park to eliminate the potential for tripping and contribute $5,000 to a parent-led effort to replace bleachers on the La Cañada High School baseball field.

An additional $30,000 will go toward a part-time permit technician, while another $35,000 will be used to partially fund a consultant to help the city update its zoning code. Another $1,000 dedicated Tuesday will be used toward an additional student stipend for a trip to a National Sister Cities International Conference in Washington, D.C., in July.

After approving the new expenditures, council members discussed the best possible uses for Lipscomb’s endowment. When the 2015-16 budget was passed, $30,000 of the bequest was dedicated to a welcome sign at the juncture of Foothill Boulevard and the ramp leading to and from the Glendale (2) Freeway.

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Public Works Director Edward Hitti presented four options for the remainder of the funds, ranging in cost from $195,000 to $540,000.

The council ultimately opted for a $495,000 project that includes widening Knight Way from Gould Avenue to Oliveta place and the addition of sidewalks, curbs and pedestrian crossings along with street resurfacing and re-striping.

Street improvements will also be made to Paulette Place (where Lipscomb lived) between Gould and Knight, and a gazebo will be installed at the city’s Olberz Park, where a plaque will memorialize the 60-year resident’s generous contribution. City Manager Mark Alexander suggested the city adjust its conservative property tax revenue estimate upward by $25,000 to cover the cost difference.

When news of the donation was released after Lipscomb’s death on March 3, 2015, officials expressed a desire to find the most appropriate and fitting use for the historic endowment and have been reviewing options since.

Lipscomb’s wife, Bonnie Lipscomb, said in an interview Tuesday her husband’s intention was for the city to do something that many people would benefit from.

“He wasn’t a do-gooder or any of that kind of thing,” she said. “He just felt that the streets should be fixed here and there.”

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Sara Cardine, sara.cardine@latimes.com

Twitter: @SaraCardine

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