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Proposed cuts threaten services

January 15, 2003

Ryan Carter

Everything from new onramps to education services could be on the

chopping block if the governor's proposed 2003-04 budget passes the

Legislature. Faced with a $35-billion state shortfall, Gov. Gray

Davis' fiscal plan -- announced Friday -- includes more than $20

billion in spending cuts during the next year-and-a-half. Officials

in Burbank are keeping an eye on the proposal, hoping it will be

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amended as it works its way through the state Assembly and Senate.

As it stands with the proposal, the city is in for a $5-million

hit to its general fund, Financial Services Director Derek Hanway

said. The city already has asked its departments to look at items

that each could afford to freeze or cut by at least 10%.

"The question now is, is that enough based on the governor's

proposal?" Hanway said.

Schools would make sacrifices, as well. Davis' plan calls for a

$1.5-billion cut in education spending for public schools. Earlier

this week, local officials were evaluating how much revenue their

schools might lose. Cutbacks would come on the heels of $3 million in

district reductions last year. If Davis' current proposal stays

intact, the district might have to consider more layoffs, officials

said. Between 90% and 95% of the district's funding comes from the

state, Supt. Greg Bowman said.

"We are in a very uncertain environment," Bowman said. "This is so

widespread and massive. Each district will be [affected] in different

ways."

The city's Redevelopment Agency could lose at least $3 million.

Revitalization of the South San Fernando District, as well as

another project in the low-income housing areas at Peyton and Grismer

avenues, might have to be shelved, Community Development Director Sue

Georgino said.

Cuts in transportation funding might mean holding off on a

Caltrans project that includes relocating some Golden State (5)

Freeway ramps and raising the railroad tracks at Buena Vista Street

and San Fernando Boulevard. A driver was killed at that intersection

last week when his truck collided with a MetroLink train.

Merchants could be hit by Davis' proposed 1-cent rise in the state

sales tax and a $1.10 tax increase for each pack of cigarettes.

Local business leaders don't think increasing taxes is the answer

to the state's money problems.

"There's no correlation between increasing taxes and stimulating

the economy," said Susan Bowers, executive director of the Burbank

Chamber of Commerce.

One local worker also was not particularly thrilled with Davis'

effort to meet the shortfall in a way that Davis called "head on."

"Business is already bad," said Garen Zargarian, 47, an employee

at Mr. Tobacco, which sells cigarettes and other tobacco products.

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