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Spending by City of Rancho Palos Verdes

September 02, 1993

Ted Johnson's article about the city of Rancho Palos Verdes (Aug. 27) provides some interesting history of the city. But it does not address the financial (mis)management by the City Council.

In the 1980s, Rancho Palos Verdes embarked on a multimillion-dollar parks and recreation building program, mainly Hesse Park and Point Vicente Interpretive Center. These projects overran their construction budgets by hundreds of thousands of dollars and have been running at a deficit every year since, also in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Last year, the City Council appointed nine knowledgeable residents to the Long Range Finance Committee, which, after almost a year of study and analysis, came up with its preliminary report in March, 1993. This report, which is available to the public, advises the council to further cut its spending in nonessential areas during this recession. The spending cuts would eliminate frills such as a telecommunications center, community forum, etc., and reduce spending on landscaping.

The LRFC also recommended a number of potential additional sources of revenue, such as privatization. Not every service was recommended to be cut, however. The LRFC recommended that no cuts be made in all essential services, including police service and road maintenance. Instead, the City Council placed the committee in recess (apparently permanently) and ignored most of the recommendations to further cut spending.

There are many questionable activities still going on at City Hall. After a 25% layoff of the city staff, the City Council increased total staff salaries to 118% of the pre-layoff salaries! Other questionable expenses include the $50,000-plus per year for community forum (some council members would like to increase this to $100,000 per year), and manicuring the lawns of Hesse Park every Friday. Why does Rancho Palos Verdes need a telecommunications center? Do we really need to spend several hundred thousand dollars per year on landscaping? Can some of these projects be postponed until after the recession?

The City Council has already raised our taxes by $850,000 per year with the landscaping and lighting assessment district, raised fees $200,000 and increased our "garbage tax" to $20 per month.

The city's "take" from property taxes has increased from $800,000 three years ago to $1,600,000 in the '93-94 budget.

Instead of the City Council continually raising taxes and increasing spending, it should either continue cutting unnecessary items from the spending programs or put the tax increases and new taxes to a vote of the residents, as was promised repeatedly by Steve Kuykendall and others on the council. Do politicians' promises mean anything?

ALAN J. CARLAN

Rancho Palos Verdes

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