City Mgm't Offers Council Options To Avert Cuts To Parks, Nature Center, Add'l Parks/Rec Pgms BUT Doesn't Offer Options On Sworn Police & Fire Cuts; Council Votes To Have Budget Oversight Committee Discuss Bolstering LBPD Overtime & Avert Proposed Gang Unit Cuts


(Aug. 28, 2012) -- LB city management responded today (Aug. 28) to public and Council resistance to some Management/Mayor proposed budget cuts by offering the City Council a list of programs that could be restored, averting cuts to Nature Center program, after school parks/recreation programs, adaptative recreation, senior center and some library services.

However the offered budget restorations, described at special Council budget session, didn't offer propose measures to avert proposed cuts in sworn police and fire department budgets, or to bolster LBPD overtime or avert proposed gang unit cuts.

In a Power Point Presentation -- which can be viewed here -- city management proposed to fund the budget restorations with a package of measures that includes assuming a higher budgeted price of oil (raising its projected price from $65 to $70/barrel) and transferring $1 million that had been allocated to sidewalks to programming. (Assuming a higher price for oil was previously suggested by Councilmembers Steve Neal and Al Austin).

Management also indicated that it had a 5% reduction in the cost of City Hall's contract with City Light and Power (a proposal Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske advanced a week earlier as part of her proposed budget alternatives). Last week, Councilwoman Schipske advanced an alternative budget package that would avert some cuts to police and fire budgets by using what the Manager/Mayor call one-time revenue. (The FY13 sum is comprised of $10.9 million in oil revenue received above $55/barrel plus assorted ambulance, street sweeping and a SERFF plant sum).

City Management and Mayor Foster have repeatedly opposed using one-time revenue for ongoing expenses. City management's proposal to address the effects of cuts to Park Rangers (who are sworn and carry weapons) is to hire non-sworn individuals who wouldn't carry weapons but would patrol parks and wear some type of uniforms. Management also proposed five "Neighborhood Liaisons" to substitute for plans to cut civilian Police Services Specialists.

Following management's presentation, Mayor Bob Foster gave Vice Mayor Robert Garcia the floor...and Garcia immediately endorsed management's proposal and made a motion to incorporate it in the proposed budget (except the Park Ranger proposal).

However Councilman Gary DeLong (who chairs the Council's Budget Oversight Committee) pointedly asked City Manager Pat West why management hadn't addressed the issue of LBPD overtime (which several Councilmembers said at an Aug. 14 budget session appeared to be significantly underbudgeted). And Councilman Johnson followed-up by stating that he doesn't support removing $1 million in sidewalk repair funding and ultimately made a substitute motion (backed by DeLong) to send the issue to Budget Oversight Committee (chaired by DeLong).

The push-back led Garcia to withdraw his motion while saying he supports the management-offered restorations.

Councilmembers Gerrie Schipske and Steve Neal indicated they want the BOC to discuss restoring (averting cuts to) LBPD's Gang Enforcement Unit...and BOC chair DeLong agreed to examine this.

Councilwoman Schipske added that proposed LB Fire Dept. cuts (including a fire engine to be eliminated at some as yet unidentified fire station) also need to be addressed. Councilwoman Schipske also said that a report -- to which management hadn't responded -- showed that Council budget reductions of the past several years had lengthened (worsened) LBFD responses time. She also raised the issue of Council travel budgets.

Councilman Johnson's substitute motion to send issues to BOC passed 7-0 (with Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal absent for the entire meeting; Councilman Patrick O'Donnell exited early).

During Council discussion, Councilman Steve Neal said the city needed additional revenue...and publicly supported presenting voters with a "revenue generating" mechanism.

A number of public speakers urge maintaining funding for Nature Center, Parks & Rec programs. Noting that she was one of several people who launched a petition drive to "Save the Nature Center," Ann Cantrell presented the hard-copy hand-signed petitions [572 according to Ms. Cantrell's subsequent email] and online petitions [793, Ms. Cantrell said in her email] and supported Councilwoman Schipske's proposed budget alternatives which avert cuts by using part of nearly $17 million in one-time revenue. Ms. Cantrell opposed charging fees for parks/rec programs provided now, saying the charges could prevent some from accessing the services. Ms. Cantrell, and Diana Lejins, also took the podium opportunity to oppose the allocation of $65,000 in FY12 oil revenue by Councilman Patrick O'Donnell to help fund a proposed dog park in El Dorado Park [that the public had been led to believe would be funded by private donations].

P.G. Herman commended City Manager West for listening to the public in proposing funding alternatives and thanked Mayor Foster for enabling public testimony earlier in the hearing than at the Aug. 14 Council budget hearing.

A single mother testified that she became a robbery victim on the night she testified at the Council on the budget...and said her 6th district neighborhood (PCH/Atlantic) was dangerous (along with others she didn't name) and urged the City to provide more police.

Near the start of the Council session, Mayor Foster reiterated his opposition to using one-time revenue for other than one-time uses. The Budget Oversight Committee's upcoming meeting is scheduled for next Tuesday (Sept. 4, and we're double-checking the time before we report it).

The full City Council is also scheduled to meet on Sept. 4...and has the proposed budget as an agendized item...meaning it could take voted action at that time to enact it (or could do so with additional tweaks on Sept. 11).

See VIDEO of our dog -- before and after -- wash & trim at Wags to Whiskers (LaunderPet)

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