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Downey Looks at Proposed Budget During Wage Talks

May 25, 1989|ROCHELLE WILKERSON | Times Staff Writer

DOWNEY — The City Council is considering a $52.4-million budget for 1989-90 while city officials negotiate new labor contracts with more than 400 city workers.

The budget proposal submitted by the city manager is 9.2% greater than last year, while operating expenditures of $41.1 million, estimated to be mostly salaries, are up 7.2%. The budget increase will be financed by an expected rise in property and sales tax revenues, according to City Manager Don Davis.

Davis said there will be no increase in taxes in the budget, but there will be small increases in homeowner water fees to finance sewer maintenance and nominal increases in user fees.

Fees to Cover Costs

Lee Powell, director of administrative services, said the sewer-maintenance fee will increase water rates from $1.60 to $1.74 every two months.

"It is not going to go up so very much. The idea is to have the fees cover more of the related cost of the service," Powell said.

User fees for building and plan checks, fire inspection and emergency transportation will be increased to more accurately reflect the cost of those services, he said.

Davis said labor contracts with police, fire, maintenance, and general employees expire June 30. The city is negotiating a two-year contract with 439 workers in five separate bargaining units.

Davis said the budget contains funds for pay increases, but he could not say how much money was earmarked for that purpose. "Hopefully, the level of funding is adequate, but we are currently negotiating with our employee groups, only time will tell," he said.

The preliminary budget gives top priority to police and fire services with the Police Department receiving 38.3% and the Fire Department getting 21.7% of the $41.1 million in operating expenses.

Davis said the budget is fair and contains no reductions in city personnel.

"I'm comfortable with it. It is a balanced budget with no new taxes. There are some user fee increases, but we feel that they are reasonable," Davis said.

Improvements on Hold

Several new positions are proposed, including a fire inspector responsible for enforcement of hazardous-material regulations, a principal building inspector, a second police officer to bring drug education to middle schools for the DARE program, two street sweeping enforcement officers, a maintenance worker to enforce parking regulation and a parking permit inspector to review applications for special permits.

Revenues are expected to total $48,485,466 in 1989-90. More than half is designated for the General Fund--$29,735,612, 8.6% more than last year's $28.1 million.

A shortage of capital improvement funds will delay improvements in the Children's Library and the parking shelter at Fire Department headquarters.

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