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SOUTH GATE : Council Rejects Fee to Maintain Parks

August 08, 1993|DUKE HELFAND

A plan to increase property tax bills by about $5 a month to maintain parks was dropped last week when the City Council refused to support the fee hike.

The Lighting and Landscaping Maintenance Assessment District fee would have raised $1.3 million to maintain South Gate and Hollydale parks. City staff members said it was needed to make up for recent state budget cuts. Without the extra funds, the staff warned, residents could face reduced services at the parks and fewer police officers on the streets.

But council members, after listening to more than four hours of public testimony, said that raising the fee was not the answer. "You can't tax yourself into prosperity," Councilman Larry Leonard said.

The council did approve a 79-cent-a-month increase in the assessment district fee to cover rising operating costs. Funds raised through the district pay to maintain street lights, traffic signals, roadside trees and medians.

Council members said they avoided drastic service reductions by tapping nearly $600,000 in reserve funds last week when they approved a $19-million general fund budget. The council approved other cuts, including a reduction in city training and travel expenses.

Todd W. Argow, the city's chief administrative officer, said his staff already cut $1.4 million out of this year's budget. Argow said he expects further service cuts, and said positions that become vacant will probably not be filled.

About 300 people, most of them senior citizens, attended Tuesday's meeting. Several complained that the fee increase would fall unfairly on older property owners who do not use the parks. Proponents said the fees would allow the city to continue providing activities for young people.

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