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Proposed Budget Adds City Audit, Park Study : Finance: The council will continue reviewing the $298.5-million plan at a hearing Tuesday. It includes no spending cuts but increases some fees.

June 13, 1991|LORI GRANGE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Glendale City Council raised few objections this week to a proposed modest-growth budget for 1991-92, opting not to cut items from the spending list but to add an annual external audit of City Hall and a study of a possible veterans memorial park.

The council, which reviewed the proposed $295.8-million budget during a daylong session Monday, also informally agreed to increase by 10% the fee cities pay to dump trash at the Scholl Canyon Landfill, said Brian Butler, the city's finance director.

Council members will continue reviewing the budget at a study session Tuesday morning and at a public hearing Tuesday afternoon. They are expected to adopt the package after the hearing or on June 25.

The proposed budget maintains city services at current levels, adds 20 new city employees and moderately increases utility rates to offset inflation and new environmental programs. It allocates funds for a variety of capital improvement programs, including $3.4 million to renovate the Civic Auditorium and $6.3 million to build a new central fire station.

Like other city officials who have described it as a conservative plan, City Manager David Ramsay told the council Monday that the proposed budget was "lean and mean," with little room for cuts.

Last year's nearly $268-million budget was adopted after a volatile, seven-week debate during which officials cut $1.1 million from the preliminary recommendation, raised the tax on hotel guests, imposed a new tax on cable-television users and boosted water and electricity rates. The council so far has made no cuts in this year's proposed package but informally agreed on a fee increase. Council members on Monday directed Butler to add to the budget a 10% increase on the dumping fee at the city's landfill, now roughly $21 per ton, Butler said.

The levy is expected to raise about $1 million next year, which would help pay for developing alternative solutions to trash disposal once Scholl Canyon is full, he said.

Councilman Larry Zarian also directed Butler to include in the budget an audit of City Hall by an outside firm. The city in the past has commissioned "superficial" reviews of its operations but needs a more thorough study to increase efficiency and cut costs, Zarian said.

Councilman Carl W. Raggio said he wanted to add a feasibility study of creating a veterans park on part or all of nearly 18 acres of city-owned land near the Glendale Freeway.

The costs of the audit and park study have not yet been determined, Butler said, although city staff members predicted the park study could cost about $40,000.

The proposed budget increases refuse-collection rates by 6%, water rates by 9.5% and electric rates by about 3%, and raises the hazardous-materials disposal fee by 5 cents. Sewage rates will not change.

The increases largely are due to environmental factors, Butler said. For instance, 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 increase in garbage-collection rates will help fund new recycling programs required by the state and federal governments, he said.

The preliminary plan is about 10.4% higher than last year's budget. The increase is greater than inflation--about 5%--because it includes new revenues from Proposition C, which boosted the county's sales tax to pay for transit programs, Butler said.

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