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No-Growth Budget Plan Contains Moderate Increases in Utility Rates

May 30, 1991|LORI GRANGE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Glendale officials this week introduced a preliminary $295.8-million budget for 1991-92 that maintains city services at current levels, adds few new employees and moderately increases utility rates to offset inflation and new environmental programs.

The proposed no-growth budget presented Tuesday to the City Council represents a leveling off of several years of growth in city services, officials said.

The council will study the preliminary plan during special sessions June 10 and June 18. A public hearing also will be held June 18. The council must adopt a formal budget before July 1.

Although it adds no new taxes, the preliminary package calls for 6% increases in monthly refuse and electric rates, a 9.5% increase in water rates and a 5-cent increase in the hazardous-materials disposal fee. Sewage rates will not change.

Brian Butler, Glendale's finance and administrative services director, said the rise in water bills is due to a 13% increase in the city's cost of buying water from the Metropolitan Water District and the cost of an expanding water-reclamation pipeline project.

The waste-disposal fee increase will help pay for the city's new Environmental Management Center. And the increase in garbage collection rates will help fund new recycling programs required by the state and federal governments, Butler said.

"This budget reflects a lot of environmental issues," he said.

In the 313-page document they unveiled to the council, finance officials touted the proposed budget as fiscally conservative and consistent with Glendale's history of having no bonded indebtedness.

"While the state, counties, school districts and many cities throughout the state are faced with significant budgetary deficits--laying off employees, reducing service and recommending significant tax increases--the city of Glendale and its staff are pleased to present a balanced governmental budget," officials wrote.

But one council member said he questions whether city services, such as the police and public works departments, can adequately serve Glendale's growing and changing population without any tax increases.

"It's a good budget, but 'balanced' doesn't mean that you've got a good planning document," Councilman Carl Raggio said. "You need to be convinced that you're going to be able to do what you need to do to satisfy the needs of the community in the next year."

Raggio took a similar position last year, when the council adopted a nearly $268-million spending plan after a boisterous, seven-week debate during which officials cut $1.1 million from the preliminary budget, raised the tax on hotel guests, imposed a new tax on cable television users and boosted water and electricity rates.

The increase in this year's budget is greater than inflation because the proposed plan includes new revenues from Proposition C, which boosted the county's sales tax to pay for transit programs, and an expanded budget for the water reclamation project.

Inflation rose by nearly 5% between April, 1990, and April, 1991, but the proposed spending plan is 10.4% higher than last year's package. Without the Proposition C funds and water projects budget, the 1991-92 plan is up only 7.6% over its predecessor, Butler said.

The preliminary plan will add 20 new city employees, including eight public works engineers and traffic employees, and several administrative workers.

The plan also allocates funds for a variety of capital improvement programs, including $3.4 million to renovate the Civic Auditorium, $6.3 million for relocating a fire station, nearly $1 million to improve the main library, about $1.9 million to develop a transportation center, and $11.3 million to upgrade the Hyperion sewage-treatment plant operated by Glendale and Los Angeles.

Street, parking and traffic improvements, historic site acquisition and a public art program also will be funded under the proposed budget.

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