After months of delays, study and debate, the City Council on Tuesday finally passed its $218-million budget for the 1990-91 fiscal year.
The budget, which emphasizes a beefed-up police force to battle gang activity, was unveiled by City Manager David N. Ream in May, but final adoption had been postponed six times throughout the summer.
"I think it's long overdue," said Councilman Daniel E. Griset. "We've had a city without a budget for two months."
Unsettled contracts with the city's police and fire unions had been the biggest stumbling block, with a majority of the council wanting to settle the contracts before passing the budget.
Councilman John Acosta, who along with Councilman Richards L. Norton voted against passing the budget, said approving it before settling the contracts was a "slap in the face" to both departments.
The Police Department's $40-million budget represents approximately 40% of the city's general fund budget.
This money will allow for the Police Department to add 15 positions to the force, including six investigators for the department's narcotics unit and four for its gang unit. Five non-sworn officers will be added to allow officers more time to patrol the street.
In addition to a beefed-up police force, the budget also emphasizes an effort to clean up the city's neighborhoods, providing $3.7 million to be spent on such improvements as street repair and tree planting.
A total of $34.8 million has been budgeted for capital improvements, which include not only the neighborhood work but also the resurfacing of major thoroughfares, new traffic signals, park improvements and a library renovation and expansion.
These projects had to be placed on hold until the budget was passed, Ream said.
Santa Ana was the only city in Orange County operating without a budget, with Westminster adopting one just last week.