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Mayor praises city's financial health

She touts balanced budget projections and a 'AAA' S&P credit rating as highlights.

November 01, 2013|By Alene Tchekmedyian, alene.tchekmedyian@latimes.com

Burbank Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy touted the city’s strong financial health during the annual State of the City address Wednesday, pointing to the city’s hundreds of new businesses, balanced budget projections for the next five years and several infrastructure improvement projects in the pipeline.

Hosted by the Burbank Chamber of Commerce, the event drew hundreds to the Marriott Burbank Airport Hotel.

The city — which underwent a full leadership turnover in the last year with a new city manager, fire chief and the appointment of a permanent police chief — has seen sales tax revenues rebound since the recession, though revenues dipped slightly last fiscal year.

Even so, annual sales tax revenues remain stable at a little less than $30 million, up roughly $4.4 million from revenues in fiscal year 2009-10, an increase that Gabel-Luddy attributed to the city’s strong retail sector. During the past decade, property tax revenues have increased by 25%, she added.

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Additionally, the city this year invested $13.4 million in its unfunded pension liability, which is expected to save $1.4 million a year, Gabel-Luddy said.

“We made the conscious decision to pay upfront to save on the back-end,” Gabel-Luddy said.

Upgrades to Johnny Carson Park are on the horizon, with the city having allocated $3.7 million for the project, $2.1 million of which is coming from grants. The city also plans to tackle other infrastructure projects, such as repairing damaged streets, over the next year, Gabel-Luddy said.

Gabel-Luddy noted that the city’s median home price last fiscal year was $530,000, far more than the county’s $377,000 median home price. Also, Burbank’s unemployment rate dropped by 1.3% last fiscal year from the year before.

In May, Burbank received a “AAA” credit rating from Standard & Poor’s, which is the highest rating possible from Wall Street’s biggest credit rating firm.

“We do not see that in many cities in California today as others are still struggling to overcome the downturn that hit us all in 2008,” Gabel-Luddy said.

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Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.

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