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Council OKs Budget Cut by $1.8 Million


Facing a state deadline, Glendale City Council members approved the 1990-91 budget Tuesday after slashing $1.8 million in programs and services, but postponed decisions on new taxes and fee increases until next week.

The spending cuts, decided at a morning study session, included a fire station crew, seven proposed police employees and a data services team. Council members asked the city staff to propose corresponding cuts next Tuesday in the fee increases and new taxes expected to pay for the programs.

Because state law requires the city to adopt a budget by July 1, the council voted 4 to 1 during its regular afternoon meeting to approve a $265-million finance plan that includes the cuts. Council members said they will modify the budget when they decide on the taxes and fees.

Councilwoman Ginger Bremberg cast the lone vote against the budget because it includes new taxes and fee increases that the council is likely to alter.

"I cannot vote for a budget which contains things I will vote against next week," she said. "I don't think it's honorable to vote for a budget where you know the figures are a lie."

But Mayor Larry Zarian said he was pleased with the council's progress.

"The most important thing was we sat down today and we took out the things we wanted to take out," he said. "I would have voted against it too had the cuts not been made."

Tuesday vote's was the latest development in an unusually boisterous budget review process that has required three council study sessions. Glendale Finance Director Brian A. Butler said it was the first time in his 13 years with the city that the budget had not been approved unanimously.

Three council members in early June told City Manager David Ramsay that they were displeased that his proposed budget called for a 9.3% increase in spending, funded by new taxes and fee increases. They demanded that Ramsay present a list of possible budget cuts in the proposed $79-million general fund, which covers such services as public safety, parks and libraries.

Ramsay's options, totaling $8.4 million, were debated by the council Tuesday morning.

In its largest single cut, the council eliminated a hook-and-ladder fire truck company at Station 29 in Montrose to save $974,185.

Ramsay said the crew is primarily assigned to battle high-rise fires but is seldom needed because there are few high-rises in that area. He said the station will continue to be staffed by a regular engine company.

The council also deleted a $27,000 fire medical adviser and slashed in half the Fire Department's $580,000 overtime fund.

Ramsay had proposed adding 25 new Police Department employees, but the council cut a new captain and an executive assistant to save $146,000. By a 3-2 margin, the council also decided not to hire five new parking enforcement officers, saving $154,000.

The council put the ax to an accelerated tree-planting program that would have cost $120,000. The city will follow its normal schedule by planting about 260 trees next year. The expanded program, calling for 1,265 more trees, was dropped.

The council decided to save $199,000 by eliminating one of Glendale's four data services teams, saying that the computer services are adequate.

Although the cuts totaled about $1.8 million, Butler said the council had also approved a number of spending increases during the budget review, bringing the net savings to about $1.65 million.

Council members eliminated more than 15 existing city positions but said no workers should be fired or laid off. Instead, the jobs are to be cut by attrition, meaning that the post will remain vacant when an employee leaves. Because this process could take years, not all of the savings will be realized immediately, staff members said.

The spending cuts must be balanced against reductions in revenue. Last week, the council eliminated a new city sewer service fee, which would have generated $495,000. Butler said elimination of the five parking enforcement officers also erased about $300,000 that they were expected to produce in parking fines.

He said that gives the council members a surplus of about $865,000 to consider next week when they debate whether to reduce or eliminate some fees and taxes.

Among the proposed fees that have been criticized by some council members are 7% charges for cable television service and interstate telephone calls. Some council members have also opposed a plan to boost the bed tax charged to Glendale's hotel guests from 7% to 10%.

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