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Officials Look for Ways to Trim Deficit : Budget: Staff members offer ideas to plug a projected $6.4-million shortfall. A painful option is to cut 3% from the General Fund, which would eliminate 31 staff positions.


GLENDALE — Faced with the specter of last year's grim budget scenario, City Council members are pondering a variety of ways to plug a projected $6.4-million deficit.

City staff members on Tuesday offered 137 budget-cutting suggestions to the council, from selling surplus road signs to renting jail space to Los Angeles County.

"Prisoners would love to spend their time in Glendale vs. the county," City Manager David H. Ramsay said.

But in the end, council members were weighing one of the most painful options: cutting 3% from the $82-million General Fund, which would include eliminating 31 staff positions. Most of the General Fund goes to pay salaries and benefits to city employees.

A 3% reduction from the General Fund would save the city about $2.5 million from a total budget of $288 million.

The plan would eliminate the crime-prevention unit, which is staffed by three civilians. The city would also lose three of 150 firefighters, scale back park maintenance and close the central library one day a week.

City officials say they would rather avoid layoffs and achieve possible reductions through attrition.

"We're faced with the incredible cruelty of lowering services," Councilwoman Ginger Bremberg said. " . . . We're spending more than we're taking in."

Officials project a $3.2-million shortfall for fiscal 1993-94 because of the recession and rising employee compensation costs. Under Gov. Pete Wilson's proposed 1993-94 state budget, Glendale could lose another $3.2 million in property taxes.

The state took back $1.5 million in property taxes from the city's General Fund last September, two months after the council pared $8 million from its 1992-93 budget. More than 80 positions were trimmed last year, including five layoffs, and a hiring freeze has been in place for 16 months.

"Even if the economy turns around we're going to be faced with a deficit," Councilman Larry Zarian said.

The city hopes to save some money through a buyout offer that allows employees 50 years of age and older to qualify for three months of additional pay if they agree to retire by March 15. So far, 16 people have applied, Ramsay said.

Council members will also consider placing a 7% users tax on all out-of-state calls by city residents. Finance Director Brian Butler estimates that the surcharge could generate $585,000 a year.

Mayor Carl Raggio said the council should consider a levy on apartment-complex owners, but other council members showed little support for the idea.

One proposal calls for opening a city store, where street lights and old signs would be sold to people instead of to junk dealers. Another would allow public use of police shooting ranges for a fee.

The next study session will be March 9. Final action on the budget is due June 30.

Dollar Signs

Here are some economic indicators for the city.

REVENUE FROM BUILDING PERMIT FEES 1990-91 1991-92 1992-93 $1.9 million $1.4 million $1.3 million

PROPERTY TRANSFER TAX REVENUE 1990-91 1991-92 1992-93 $474,000 $336,000 $300,000

INTEREST EARNINGS ON CITY INVESTMENTS 1990-91 1991-92 1992-93 7.6% 6.1% 5.6%

Source: Glendale Finance Director Brian Butler.

UNEMPLOYMENT DEC. '89 DEC. '90 DEC. '91 DEC. '92 3.3% 4.2% 5.6% 6.7%

Source: State of California, Employment Development Department Labor Market Information Division.

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