Officials and residents alike voiced nervousness about Malibu's financial state at a Tuesday workshop on the city's first official budget. Interim City Manager Bruce Spragg proposed a $6.6-million budget that leaves only $962,000 in the reserve fund for emergencies. Several participants pointed out that the figure drops down to a paltry $132,485 when funds restricted largely to road repairs are taken out.
"Starting off the first year is going to be a very difficult situation," Spragg said.
Half of the city's budget is for a $3.3-million contract with the Sheriff's Department for police and traffic services. And, according to Capt. Don Mauro of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, that amount will require "a drop in the level of service (for traffic enforcement)."
Several members from the audience worried that the budget had been based on guesswork. "These projections are fairly weak. This is a wish list until we get a handle on what we have," said John Harlow.
Harlow and others noted that although officials are calling the budget balanced, in reality that is only because they are deferring about $820,000 in legal, fire and policing costs. At the same time, the city has been unable to afford hiring permanent city staff and basic necessities such as a copying machine.