Paradise isn't what it used to be.
One Beverly Hills councilman still regularly refers to the city as Camelot, but the shining moments have been few in recent weeks as city officials have grappled with the grim reality of diminished income as they put together a budget for the new fiscal year that starts today.
Facing a loss of property taxes to the state and a slow rebound in the economy, officials announced Tuesday that 25 to 30 city employees will have to be laid off to balance the 1993-94 city budget.
The City Council approved a $74.3-million budget, which is about $1.4 million less than the budget approved a year ago. The budget calls for $1 million in staff cuts, holding the line on departmental operating costs, passing on the full cost of trash collection to residents, and implementing fee increases recently approved by the council. The city's measures to balance the budget will be formally presented to the community during the council's evening meeting next Tuesday.
Noel Marquis, the deputy director of finance, said in an interview that job cuts will come mainly from the ranks of the management and professional staff over the next two months.
"It's not something we can wait on," Marquis said.
The city has already thinned its line positions, such as accounting clerks and field workers, over the last three years, he said. Over a four-year period, the city has reduced its work force from 710 to 640, mostly by not filling positions when vacancies occurred.
Marquis said the city will first look at thinning its ranks by offering early-retirement incentives. But that option will only work if the city does not have to subsequently hire another person to fill the position, he said.
The city also sought to protect certain services by cutting some departments and increasing others. Budgets were trimmed in planning and community development, building and safety, transportation services, general services, public works, recreation and parks, and policy and management.
Departments receiving increases include the Beverly Hills Public Library, police and fire, human services, legal services, city clerk, finance administration, liability insurance, and non-departmental expenses. After the cuts and increases, the budget for the city's departments was increased by $624,685 over last year, according to the city's budget document.
In addition to city departments, the General Fund budget also includes about $6.5 million in community support funds, which go mainly to city schools, another $8.5 million toward city debts, and a contribution of $1.2 million to the city's capital improvements fund.
Overall, this year's budget is about $1.4 million less than the $75.7 million in expenditures approved last June, and about $9.6 million less than the $84-million budget of 1991-92.
The police and fire departments will receive about $28.9 million, or nearly half of the $58 million allocated to city departments, according to the city's budget report. The amount allocated for public safety seems large for a city population just under 32,000, but the daytime population swells to approximately 200,000, Marquis noted.
On the revenue side, the city will gain more than $2 million as a result of a recent City Council decision to pass on to residents the full cost for trash collections. The city also will get about $1.2 million from fee increases and new fees. About $500,000 is anticipated from increases in existing fees for such things as city-subsidized, after-school child care, tennis court use and movie filming. About $200,000 will come from a trenching fee, charged when streets have to be dug up for utility connections or repairs, and from a new hauling fee for trucking heavy loads of dirt and concrete over city streets. An additional $500,000 is expected from new business license taxes for home-based occupations and rentals of single-family homes.
Overall revenues are projected at $75 million, about $1 million less than in the fiscal year that ended Wednesday, and about $11.3 million less than 1991-92.