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Council Still Pondering Budget Cuts

SAN CLEMENTE | COMMUNITY NEWS FOCUS

February 27, 1997|KIMBERLY BROWER

Budget cuts are the talk of the town as the City Council searches for answers to a $2.8-million shortfall that officials say was created by the passage of Proposition 218.

With a marathon session last Saturday and meetings Tuesday and Wednesday nights, the council has heard public comment and held lengthy debates over where to trim costs.

The council will make its final decision next Wednesday when members vote on which programs to cut and whether to place a proposed tax increase on the June ballot. Proposition 218 restricts the use of assessment revenue for certain purposes, creating a shortfall for many cities.

The more than 40 possible budget cuts suggested by staff could save the city $1.5 million. The proposed cuts include reducing the number of city employees, instituting a 36-hour workweek, raising greens fees at the city golf course, using private contractors for city maintenance, and reducing lifeguard services.

"The Lighting and Landscape District . . . is dead," Mayor Patrick M. Ahle said Tuesday night. The district oversees maintenance of parks, beaches and other areas, services that under Proposition 218 cannot be covered by assessment revenue.

At Tuesday's meeting in a council chamber crowded with residents, council members were asked not to cut staff or services from the city's recreation and beach departments.

"The beach is our biggest attraction," resident Mike Brousard said. "I think it would be extremely shortsighted to lessen the service."

"We need to support the programs that support our families," resident Steve Zoerner told the council, explaining that families rely heavily on the city's parks and recreation programs.

Residents who spoke Tuesday were asked by council members if they would support placing a tax increase on the June ballot.

A majority said they preferred a tax hike to cutting services.

The public can view the budget documents at City Hall or the library.

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