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Three Vacant Positions Eliminated : Hermosa Cost-Cutting Hits Police

November 28, 1985

HERMOSA BEACH — After nearly two hours of reviewing Police Department revenue that is far less than projected for the first quarter of fiscal 1985-86, the City Council on Tuesday voted for several cost-cutting measures, including the elimination of three vacant police officer positions.

The council voted 3 to 1 to eliminate the three positions--which have been vacant since the summer--for an estimated saving of $112,500. Mayor Jack Wood opposed the action, saying he preferred to increase the number of officers in the hope that they would write more tickets and bring in additional revenue. Councilman Gary Brutsch was absent from Tuesday's meeting.

The decision leaves the city with 34 sworn police officers.

Police Chief Frank Beeson acknowledged that the Police Department's revenue estimate of $702,857--submitted during the city's annual budget review last June--was "overprojected." Revenue for the fiscal year now is expected to total $278,131.

Beeson said the biggest problem is a severe shortfall in collected fines for traffic citations. Of a projected yearly total of $452,052, only $23,888 has been collected since the fiscal year started July 1. Beeson later said part of the shortfall could be traced to new county and state processing fees. In addition, he said, he believes officers are writing fewer tickets.

Wally Moore, president of the Hermosa Beach Police Officers Assn., told the council that the city's officers bring in the second-highest revenue per capita for traffic citations in the South Bay. Cutting officers, he said, would only lower morale.

Moore told the council that the officers "are frustrated that they're the brunt of a revenue battle."

Countered Councilman Tony DeBellis: "There's not a councilman up here that wants to cut a policeman--it's political suicide. But on the other hand, we can't afford them."

The council also unanimously voted to eliminate one vacant radio records clerk position, saving $16,584, and directed City Manager Gregory Meyer to prepare recommendations for an additional $120,000 in citywide cuts for the council's Dec. 16 meeting.

On a 3-1 vote, with Wood dissenting, the council also authorized a proposal to swap $155,000 in Proposition A transportation funds with another city, which would return $100,000 in general funds money.

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