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Council Slashes General Fund Budget but Rejects Plan to Cut Police, AIDS Services


PASADENA — The City Council sliced $3.6 million out of next year's general fund budget, but council members rejected City Manager Philip Hawkey's proposals to lay off nine police cadets and police assistants and to cut off funds to the city's AIDS program.

The council also saved a program of subsidies for arts programs and rejected a proposal to eliminate the job of Human Services Coordinator Vicki Tamoush, who administers the Human Relations Commission.

During a special budget session Monday, the council sent back about $700,000 of Hawkey's package of $4.3 million in proposed budget cuts.

Because of anticipated losses of revenue from the state and recession-driven shortfalls, the city faces a $9.3-million budget gap, Hawkey said. The council will be asked to act on another $2.2 million in cuts next month, he said.

The rest should be made up largely by a surplus from the city-owned water and power company and increased charges for city services, Hawkey said.

Pasadena finds itself in an especially difficult dilemma this year, with the state expected to seize a larger portion of property taxes and redevelopment funds just as the recession is putting a damper on revenues, Mayor Rick Cole said.

"There are more people unemployed, more people calling for city services and fewer people able to pay for them," Cole said.

In proposing budget cuts, Hawkey said, he had sought to minimize service disruptions to the public and layoffs. But the city has already been downsizing for three years, and many discretionary items have already been cut, he said.

"If there are more cuts in services and supplies, it does go to the issue of capacity," Hawkey said. "If you have a fleet of cars and you reduce the budget for oil changes, you might get by this year. But you're headed for a breakdown."

Without the layoffs of police cadets and police assistants, who perform clerical and security tasks, the Police Department will have to look to its services and supplies for savings.

"That means everything from (bulletproof) vests to ammunition," Hawkey said.

But public opinion has been running strongly against personnel cuts in the Police Department.

"Don't mess with our police cadets," one speaker at the public hearing said.

The police cadets and police assistants perform a variety of tasks, fingerprinting job applicants, filing police reports and rap sheets, staffing the front counter and helping administer neighborhood watch programs. The AIDS program for which a funding cutoff was proposed is a referral service for those who are HIV-positive.

Council members said they will be looking at the smallest expenditures--even at contracts below $25,000, which do not ordinarily require City Council review or approval--in the search for places to save money.

"There are millions and millions of dollars in checks written by the city without review by the public," Councilman Chris Holden said.

Hawkey will present a completed budget to the council May 17. The new fiscal year begins July 1.

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