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Culver City Proposal Would Help Offset Tax Limitations : New Budget Calls for Fee Increases

May 18, 1986|JEFF BURBANK | Times Staff Writer

Developers and non-residents would pay higher fees for city services in Culver City while residents would see their utility user taxes cut under a proposed 1986-87 city budget.

The $40.6-million budget, submitted by Chief Administrative Officer Dale Jones to the City Council last week, calls for increases in permit and other user fees to offset the provisions of the 1979 Gann initiative, which limits the taxes cities may collect. Although the initiative curtails taxes, it says nothing about raising user fees.

The proposed fee increases, Jones said, would amount to an estimated $320,000 over the next year.

Roger Mansfield, assistant chief administrator, said that Culver City's receipts from utility, property, business and other taxes for 1985-86 were $5.1 million below the Gann-imposed limit of $24 million. But by 1989-90, the gap could narrow to about $3.1 million, he said. Under the Gann initiative, cities must return to taxpayers anything over the set limits.

Attempt at Balance

Jones said that the higher fees would bring services more in line with their actual cost, permitting the city to rely less on tax revenue.

"The revenue mix of the city should continue to be shifted from one that is heavily dependent upon taxes to one that is more balanced between taxes and user fees and charges," Jones said.

Jones said the new fees, which have not been set, would affect charges for sewer connection and parking lot construction permits, fire inspections, taxi driver applications and various building and safety fees and permits.

David Griffith & Associates told the council last January that the city loses about $3.7 million each year on services that involve user fees. The city could recover about $560,000 of the loss by raising some fees, the study said.

Jones said more fee increases from other city departments are likely to be offered to the council as amendments to the budget after it is adopted June 30.

Loss to the City

The utility user tax reduction, from 11% to 9.5%, requested by the council earlier this year, would result in a loss to the city of $1 million next year, Jones said. Also, as a result of federal budget cutbacks, Culver City's federal revenue sharing funds will be cut from $950,000 to about $150,000, he said.

But, Jones said, the city will recoup those losses next year with a $3.1-million payment by the Redevelopment Agency on a loan from the city and $269,000 from new parking meter revenues.

The City Council last week raised two service fees charged by the Police Department. One-day permit fees charged production companies to film on city land were raised from $145 to $170, after Jones reported police need it to cover the cost of "No Parking" signs on city streets. The council also raised from $36.50 to $46, the cost of answering false alarms.

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