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Budget Grappling Begins in Earnest in Bellflower

June 02, 1988|JAMES M. GOMEZ | Times Staff Writer

BELLFLOWER — Candice Kosmont wants an extra $30,000 to expand a Parks and Recreation Department-sponsored program for young teen-agers who may otherwise turn to gangs.

Craig Nealis argues that the city should invest $770,000 to fix potholes and repave some of the city's 60 miles of roads, especially Park Street. He also says the city desperately needs a new $157,000 "transit center" to centralize the city's bus services.

William McConnell wants to buy dozens more shade trees at $125 apiece to line city streets and hire a few extra hands in the Public Works Department to prune them.

And Lee Whittingberg thinks $10,000 should be enough to keep ahead in the city's never-ending fight against graffiti.

Wish Lists Submitted

Welcome to budget time, when these and other department heads each year submit a wish list of items and programs they would like to see during the next fiscal year. Then they sit for hours before the City Council, defending their requests line by line.

For the past week, Bellflower's six department heads have been spending their evenings negotiating with the council for a piece of the proposed $13.82-million municipal budget for fiscal year 1989-90, which begins July 1.

The proposed budget, which comes in about $1.5 million higher than what the city expects to spend by the end of this fiscal year, includes a 5% across-the-board pay increase request for all city employees except City Council members, Finance Director Linda Manning said.

It also includes $600,000 in new revenue sources, including a boost in the city's sales tax base through several new commercial centers scheduled to open by the end of this year, Manning said. The hotel-motel tax was also increased by 3% recently.

The City Council will consider a final draft of the proposed budget at its next council meeting.

"The staff was told to maintain the status quo, more or less," said Nelson Oliva, a city spokesman. "We were told to replace and renovate only."

Largest Chunk of Budget

The city's contract with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department takes up the largest chunk of the budget--$3.14 million. That figure has been increased by $305,500, partially because of the proposed additions of a new full-time community relations officer and law enforcement public information and education programs.

"Law enforcement is important," Manning said. "We need to spend that much money."

The budget also includes $866,000 for community development loan programs that would provide low-interest aid to senior citizens, prospective home buyers and landlords to renovate low-income rental housing.

Other items range from a $40,000 request for the city's annual fall Liberty Week and parade to $200 for a new hand-held megaphone for the manager of the city-sponsored Farmers Market.

"All in all, this is a good budget," Manning said. "It's not much different from last year."

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