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Culver City Council to Decide on Proposal for 2-Year Budget Process

December 14, 1986|JEFF BURBANK | Times Staff Writer

The Culver City council on Monday will decide on a proposal to budget city funds over two years instead of one, which one councilman said would violate the City Charter and result in "a financial nightmare."

The proposal, offered by Councilwoman Jozelle Smith and Mayor Paul A. Netzel, would permit the council to adopt a one-year budget and then present a second one for the following year. Public hearings would be held on both budgets before adoption.

Councilman Richard Brundo, who opposes the idea, said a two-year budget is against the charter's requirement that all city money be spent by June 30 of each year. Brundo said the city cannot predict over 24 months how much tax revenue it will receive and that the second-year budget would have to be adjusted too often.

Double the Worries

"Worrying about four quarters is enough, let alone eight quarters," Brundo said. "I think it will be a financial nightmare of staff time and labor for naught."

Other cities that use two-year budgets are mostly suburban residential cities that depend on property taxes for the bulk of city revenue, Brundo said. Culver City relies mainly on sales tax revenue, a source that may change significantly from year to year, he said.

Smith said the two-year budget would save staff time because a budget plan would already be in place for the second year. She said that other California cities such as Walnut Creek and San Luis Obispo reported success with the method.

"The budget sessions are a horrendous crunch. (Two-year budgeting) would cut down on the horrible plodding you have to do almost every six months to get (the budget) together," Smith said.

Anaheim Reports Savings

Ken Stone, a senior management analyst for the city of Anaheim, said his city's two-year budget, now in its second year, has saved staff time because when the first-year budget ended the city had its budget policies already in place for the second.

"It's been a success. It can definitely be a benefit to any city," Stone said. "It takes some time and you may run into some kinks that you have to get through."

Stone said Anaheim city officials made it easy to adjust the second year's budget should city revenues or expenditures change.

Anaheim, like Culver City, is a charter city and officials are required to hold public hearings and review each year's budget, Stone said. Sales taxes are Anaheim's main source of revenue. Of the city's $58.8-million 1986-87 budget, $30 million, or nearly 50%, is provided by sales taxes, Stone said.

The Culver City two-year proposal was endorsed by the city staff last week in a report to the council. The city could present two budgets at once and still conform to the charter if it held public hearings before it considered the second year, the staff reported.

Culver City's budget for 1986-87 is $40.6 million. The largest form of revenue is sales tax, which accounts for $9.4 million, or 22.3% of the total. Utility users tax was next with $6 million, or 14.2%.

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