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MALIBU : City Budget Will Include Disaster Fund

June 18, 1995|KATHLEEN KELLEHER

The Malibu City Council has narrowly agreed to adopt an $8.5-million operating budget for fiscal 1995-96 that for the first time includes a disaster recovery fund--a testament to a recent cycle of devastating fires and ravaging floods.

The spending plan, which includes a surplus of $31,000, was adopted on a 3-2 vote.

Assistant City Manager Mark Lorimer said the plan will allow Malibu to maintain its existing level of services, with the addition of one position and two new city employees to replace contract employees. A new position in the city manager's office will be created for an account assistant. The public works department will get a full-time projects assistant and a maintenance manager.

But council members Jeffrey W. Kramer and Carolyn Van Horn opposed the budget, both objecting to a $130,000 allocation for hiring the new employees.

Kramer argued that the city should be tightening its belt, not incurring new costs. Van Horn said she opposed the hiring because she believes city employees are more costly than contract employees.

The city anticipates revenues of $8.5 million for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The projected $31,000 surplus would be only a fraction of last year's $300,000.

The budget includes a first-time disaster reserve fund of $500,000, set aside specifically for fires and mudslides.

"We'll all be keeping our fingers crossed that we have a light winter because if we don't get governmental disaster relief funding, then the whole general fund reserve is in jeopardy," Councilman John Harlow said.

Further putting the squeeze on city finances is a proposed allocation of $840,000 in general fund dollars that the city anticipates paying for legal settlements and potential judgments.

The city has set aside $605,000 for an anticipated payment to the owner of Paradise Cove mobile home park. The park's owner, Kissel Co., won a judgment resulting from a mobile home rent lawsuit it brought against the city. The city has appealed the decision.

Anticipating other litigation, the city budgeted $450,000 for legal fees and services.

Revenues from sales taxes and users fees dropped this fiscal year, from $1.3 million in 1993-94 to $1.1 million for the year ending June 30. The reduction, Lorimer said, was caused by a drop in sales during storm-related disasters that closed Pacific Coast Highway and from a loss in uncollected users fees from the 270 residents whose homes burned in the 1993 wildfire.

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