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City Raises Trash Fees, Delays Cuts in Staffing : Finances: Officials wait to see how state decisions will affect next year's budget before proposing layoffs. Sewer charges will decline for homeowners.

June 17, 1993|G. JEANETTE AVENT | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

BEVERLY HILLS — The Beverly Hills City Council increased some city fees while lowering the sewer fee for residential customers, but stopped short Tuesday of making the deep staff and organizational cutbacks that may be needed to balance the budget before July 1.

City Manager Mark Scott told the council he wanted to wait until a study session next week before recommending the hard decisions that will be needed to balance the budget, in hopes that the budget turmoil in Sacramento will be settled before that time.

The city's proposed $75.7-million operating budget is about the same as last year, but officials are expecting a nearly $5.6-million shortfall in the 1993-94 budget because of an expected decrease in the state's property tax allocation to municipalities.

Scott said state officials are talking about cutting the allocation of property taxes to cities in increments over two years rather than taking the full amount during the 1993-94 year. They are also discussing extending the half-cent sales tax but it is unclear whether the tax will benefit cities if it is extended, he said.

The steps the City Council took this week to offset the deficit included increasing refuse fees for residential customers by about 65%. The impact on utility bills will be tempered by a decrease in sewer charges, city officials say. The city also plans to conduct a management audit of its sanitation operations to see if costs can be reduced.

Under the plan, residents with lots smaller than 10,000 square feet will have their trash bills increase from $26.71 to $44.07 every two months. Residents with lots of 10,000 square feet to 20,000 square feet will be charged $88.14, up from $53.42. Bills for owners of lots larger than 20,000 square feet will increase to $146.90 from $89.03.

In the past, the city has paid for refuse services out of its general operating budget, which draws its revenue from taxes on property, hotel occupancy, business and sales. Making residents pay for the full cost of refuse collection will decrease the shortfall in the city's operating budget to $3.4 million.

Despite the refuse fee increase, many residents' bi-monthly utility bills will go down because of a decrease in sewer charges, city officials say. The city will charge a flat rate of $23.50 for all residential waste water. Sewer fees had varied from $21.10 for very small users to $89.85 for large users.

Commercial customers will see an increase in their sewer bills, but for the most part, commercial sewer rates will still be cheaper than the rates charged by nearby cities such as Burbank and Culver City, officials said.

The City Council also raised some other fees based an annual review. Some were raised 3.5%, corresponding to the increase in the Consumer Price Index over the past 12 months, and others were increased by a larger amount to recover more of the actual cost of providing the service. The increases are expected to raise an additional $250,000 to $350,000.

The fee changes include an increase from $104.50 to $108 for an appeal of an administrative decision to a city commission or the City Council. Tennis court fees for non-residents will go from $5 to $6 per hour. Film companies will be charged a $915 per day film-dressing fee in residential neighborhoods for the first time. The city had charged only for actual filming days, but the new fee covers days of construction and setup before filming.

City-subsidized child day care during the school year will be increased by 10%.

The city expects to raise an additional $150,000 to $200,000 by charging trenching fees and heavy hauling fees.

The trenching fee is intended to cover the shortened life of city streets caused by digging up the road to make improvements. A heavy hauling fee will also be charged for trucking dirt and concrete on city streets.

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