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Forecast 2012: City settles in for new challenges

Budgets, schools and police force will continue as attention-getters.

December 31, 2011|By Maria Hsin, maria.hsin@latimes.com

Some of the same problems that the city grappled with last year are likely to continue to pose problems in 2012, Deputy City Manager Joy Forbes said. But there also will be some new challenges and projects, and, almost certainly, some new successes.

The city’s budget, and a yawning budget deficit, will continue to be troublesome, she said.

But the city will continue to look at improving efficiency and negotiating with labor groups as it seeks ways to keep costs down, she said.

Not helping matters will be the high rates at which Burbank and other cities will be forced to pay into the California Public Employees’ Retirement System. Forbes noted that while most contracts with labor groups representing city employees have been renegotiated, four contracts are pending, including one with police.

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The City Council could discuss those agreements in the first few months of the year, Forbes said.

The so-called utility smart meters — which generated a vocal minority that opposed their installation — are scheduled to be discussed again early in the year and officials also are slated to discuss the National Golf Foundation report on plans for the troubled DeBell Golf Club.

The construction schedule for the Golden State (5) Freeway also could be finalized in early 2012, Forbes said. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2013.

Court dates for police litigation are set for 2012, and Forbes hoped to “get some sort of movement.”

The design for Johnny Carson Park also could be completed in 2012.

Work on the Verdugo Park pool could be completed by the fall — city officials had hoped it would be available for the summer. The City Council also is looking into an overhaul of the McCambridge Park pool, Forbes said.

“There are always development projects — I think you’ll see some come forward next year,” Forbes said.

Plans for a Walmart appear to be moving forward and the store could open on the former site of the Great Indoors by early 2013, according to Steven Restivo, a spokesman for the mega-retailer.

A 120-unit townhome project in the Rancho District is scheduled to be discussed by the City Council on Jan. 24.

And after the new contractor at the city’s recycling center files for recertification to receive CRV funds, Public Works Director Bonnie Teaford said the state has indicated that the application could be approved as early as October 2012.

Following years of planning and fundraising, Burbank Unified School District officials will lead the community in celebrating the reopening of Memorial Field. The $12.7-million project is scheduled to be officially opened in the spring.

District officials also will continue to explore the possibility of placing a school bond measure on the 2013 ballot. If the measure is successful, the resulting money could help bolster Burbank Unified during ongoing state budget cuts and allow for major infrastructure projects.

Staff writers Mark Kellam and Megan O’Neil contributed to this report.

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