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Council Approves $68 Million Budget

The City Council approves the proposed $68 million annual budget for 2012-2014 as presented. Revisions will likely be made at next Council meeting on July 2.

Facing a state-mandated deadline of June 30 to have a new budget in place, West Hollywood’s City Council approved the proposed $68 million annual budget for the fiscal years 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 at its Monday night meeting.

That budget projects revenues of $13.5 million in transient occupancy taxes (20% of the budget), $12.9 million in property taxes (20%), $11.4 million in sales/user taxes (17%), $8.4 million in parking fines (12%), $4.3 million in parking meter revenue (6%) and $17.6 million from other sources (26%).

On the expenditure side, 38% goes to staff wages and fringes, 23% for sheriff/fire services, 6% to social services contracts and 5% to debt/bond repayment, among others.

The Council passed the budget as presented due to the state deadline, but will likely make adjustments during future meetings.

The budget faced severe criticism from speakers during public comment. Some were concerned about specific expenditures. Others were frustrated by the lack of details contained in the 272-page document.

The council shared the frustrations about the document’s presentation. Councilmember John Heilman said it was lacking in specifics and needed more details.

Councilmember John D’Amico said the budget read more like a year-end report that a company releases, not a detailed listing of how the city plans to spend its money. Mayor Jeff Prang said it was written like a story but without explanations for why the money was being spent.

D’Amico questioned why the various commissions hadn’t been given the opportunity to weigh in on the budget and why the public hadn’t been involved in the process.

Mayor Pro Tem Abbe Land said that the council usually has a budget study session to ask specific questions and make specific changes in April before approving it in June. However that had not been done this year.

Councilmember John Duran said that the budget is not a Bible, but rather a guiding tool for how the city likely will spend its money. He pointed out that the Council makes revisions to the budget at virtually every meeting when it approves various expenditures.

The Council then started making requests for specific changes – $10,000 more here and $10,000 more there, put this money here instead of there, etc. D’Amico said he wanted to double the arts budget from $100,000 to $200,000.

As this was going on, Prang said the Council was essentially having the budget study session it should have had in April during that meeting. City Manager Paul Arevalo said he would bring those modifications back to the July 2 Council meeting for approval.

D’Amico questioned what the budget as a whole said about the city. He said the budget reflects the priorities of the city and the City Council but not of the residents and businesses. He also noted that the budget seemed to reflect policy shifts that had not had hearings in the public realm.

Prang responded that it was a good document and that it does reflect the values of the community. Prang also noted that he has never seen as much community involvement with the budget before.

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Shawn Thompson June 21, 2012 at 04:59 PM
If the best Paul could do was get the Budget on the agenda 18 days before the state deadline I think his management isnt producing timely results, After working for the city for 10 years before becoming the city manager. And now being the City manager for 12 YEARS, I think it just doesn't make sense. And for being paid $300,000 a year I would expect better from him.
Shawn Thompson June 21, 2012 at 05:32 PM
@Chole I loved that moment when you gave that comment, I thought it was courageous and an accurate representation as to how Duran was acting that night.. Also I agree the meeting is full of too many thank you staff and thank you this group, Along with the personal council member's as I see it speeches on what their opinions are. I'm not anti CSW pride, but isn't one thank you enough in a meeting to a group. The amount of time thanking CSW at the last council meeting repeated over and over again by different council members was so unproductive in my mind I wanted to be informed and involved and it was so hard for me at times when watching the meeting online to sit thru all the unneeded filler. All this why the residents have to sit there and wait for there names to be magically called and get 2 mins of talk time. And because of all the filler at the front the real quality of life items always come up hours into the meeting when a majority of the residents have become so bored they leave. The raising EVERYTHING parking was at the end along with the El Mirador. In the end watching from home, Jeff Prang whose turn it is to be called “ THE MAYOR” had left the meeting? I'm not sure why, but because he had left and they numbered four total they couldn't get a to vote on it and had to table it?
Stephanie June 21, 2012 at 07:02 PM
We, the residents, should hold a "study group" to go over the budget. We could each take a part of the 308 pgs and look at it line by line, which we should have done months ago. Even at this point, facts are facts. Information is power. It's all there in black and white. I'm sure there are some financial types among us, and maybe an attorney or two who deal in civic financing. I feel our rights are being violated by leaving us out of the process and being DISCOURAGED from participating. 6 hour mtgs are DISCOURAGING. Scheduling and then cancelling meetings is DISCOURAGING. Speaking for 2 minutes is DISCOURAGING. Having the same people "representing" us year after year is DISCOURAGING. Saying one thing and doing another is DISCOURAGING. Having to work full time, raise kids, go to school, being ignored is all DISOURAGING. But being told that not enough people attend meetings is ABSURDIST DRAMA. Last year the Mayor told the Plummer Park people we "could" keep coming and speaking out if we wanted, but we did not have to. So, which is it? We don't have to come OR not enough of us come? What we ALL know is things MUST to change. Business as usual is no longer acceptable. But what we also have to know is that WE are responsible for the change. It will not change from the inside. We do not have term limits. The next best thing is what Heilman spins over and over again,"Elections ARE term limits." Prove him right. We need a citizens "quorum" to make the changes. START NOW.
Sheila Lightfoot June 22, 2012 at 04:09 AM
Stephanie, I’ll be the first volunteer for the study group (great idea). Unfortunately the budget that was released doesn’t contain the expenditure details required to do a line-by-line review. However, John D’Amico posted a comment on my blog and I responded with a request for a more detailed budget so we can do exactly what you suggest. See my post for him. http://westhollywood.patch.com/blog_posts/blog-city-councils-dereliction-of-duty
Sheila Lightfoot June 23, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Re: Detailed Budget. I got an email response from John D'Amico's Deputy. She said, "we are looking into getting this information for you." If I do receive a more detailed budget, I will find a way to make it available to everyone.

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