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After bridging $2.5 million gap, Burbank expects new budget to fare better

June 12, 2013|By Daniel Siegal, daniel.siegal@latimes.com

The City Council on Tuesday adopted a $149 million General Fund budget that was balanced on $2.5 million in spending cuts across multiple departments.

City Financial Services Director Cindy Giraldo said officials project a $3.9 million surplus in the General Fund by the end of the 2013-14 year, due in part to a mix of reduced expenditures, higher fees and a projected 1% increase in sales and property tax revenues.

The General Fund pays for most public services, including libraries, police and firefighters and public works.

Interim City Manager Ken Pulskamp said in a statement released after the vote that the city was now in a position to build some budgetary momentum for the next half-decade.

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“Our goal was to eliminate the structural deficit by identifying ways to reduce the budget, while minimizing the impact on city services for our residents,” Pulskamp said.

To that end, the budget includes a plan to spend $1.2 million annually on street improvements throughout the city.

Support for the new budget wasn’t unanimous, however. Vice-Mayor David Gordon voted against the budget, citing his opposition to higher utility rates in the wake of the news that the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California — which charges Burbank for imported water — had an unexpected surplus this year.

“I don’t think as a representative in this community we are getting the full story on the rates being charged to the city,” Gordon said.

The budget includes a 4.75% water rate hike to account for the higher cost of imports from the water district.

Sewer and trash-hauling rates are also slated for an increase of 2%.

Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy said that despite the utility rate increases, the city’s budget was a major step forward, especially because of the one-time allocation of $9 million to help pay down the city’s $252-million unfunded pension liability — a move that would save Burbank $720,000 each year.

“By taking that on today, it doesn’t bring immediate results, and it doesn’t bring results in your election year,” she said. “You should all be proud we’ve done that.”

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Follow Daniel Siegal on Google+ and on Twitter: @Daniel_Siegal.

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