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Orange County Focus

FULLERTON : City Seeks to Protest Funding Shortfall

April 12, 1993|WILLSON CUMMER

In the hostile budget wars pitting local governments against the state, the City Council here has developed a new weapon.

Tucked into a listing of city recreation programs and classes to be mailed April 19 to 50,000 residents is a letter from the council urging residents to write protest letters to state legislators.

It is the first time such a missive has been included in the recreation mailer.

We are "trying to generate some groundswell in addition to what we're doing officially," Councilman A.B. (Buck) Catlin said. "I don't think legislators listen to elected officials."

Catlin, a councilman for 11 years and a former planning commissioner, said he does not remember a mass appeal to residents similar to this.

Beginning with, "Dear fellow resident: Your city needs your help," the letter explains that the state took $3 million in property and other taxes from the city treasury last year to help balance the state budget. The city expects to lose another $3.9 million this year, it says.

The letter also states that the city could face a budget shortfall of $4.2 million and be forced to begin layoffs or raise taxes. At stake are key city services: police, fire, libraries and maintenance, all of which have been named as possible targets for reduction at recent public budget meetings.

"We've got no more places to go other than raise the taxes," Catlin said.

Residents are asked to demand that the state cut its own expenditures rather than take funds from cities.

"Don't sacrifice my city to balance your budget," the letter states. "Rather than balancing its budget on the backs of local government, the state Legislature should make the same tough decisions, such as cutting services, that we have been forced to make over the past four years."

Said Catlin: "Legislators really don't talk to people; they talk to their own constituency that raises money. They're hiding in Sacramento."

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