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Proposed City Budget Raises Concerns Among Residents

Councilmember John D'Amico has an informal meeting with residents regarding the city's new budget for the 2012-2014 fiscal years. The City Council will discuss the budget at its June 18 meeting.

With the City Council scheduled to discuss the city’s proposed budget for the 2012-13 and 2013-2014 fiscal years at its June 18 meeting, Councilmember John D’Amico held a meeting with residents to discuss this budget as part of his periodic "Coffee with the Councilman" meetings.

About 15 people showed up for the meeting in Plummer Park on Saturday morning. They were grateful for the chance to discuss the budget, but questioned why there were not public meetings devoted to the topic, much like was held for the General Plan.

A specific item that had many attendees concerned is a proposed $212,000 feasibility study for moving City Hall to the southeast corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and San Vicente Boulevard, where the Sheriff’s station currently stands.  

Attendees questioned why the city would even consider moving City Hall when it is planning to build a $16 million automated parking garage behind the current City Hall. They also wondered why the idea of moving City Hall has never been broached publicly before and what other sites might serve as alternatives.

The question of lowering parking fees was raised. Some wondered if the city should re-bid the contract for parking enforcement since the city currently pays the company doing the enforcement $27 per ticket written.

The wages and benefits for city staff also brought questions. One person wanted to know why these costs are rising when other cities are struggling to pay their staff. Also troubling was city employees who are retired and collecting pensions, yet still working for the city in consulting positions. Some called this “double-dipping.”

Others expressed concerns about the loss of redevelopment agency money and why that isn’t discussed in the budget. Others wanted more details about the bonds the city issued to finance the proposed $41 million renovation of Plummer Park.

D’Amico wasn’t there to provide answers so much as to listen to the concerns and then raise them during the City Council’s discussion. He told Patch it was a “really great conversation” and that it raised important questions about how the process in general is handled.

“Is the budget the place for political decisions or for budgetary decisions? Are they the same or are they different?” D’Amico said. “When it’s a policy decision, how is it best to have that discussion? Is it better to do it separate from a budgetary discussion or in tandem with it? Or both?”  

Copies of the city’s budget are available for viewing at the . A PDF of the budget can be viewed by clicking here, however, be warned it is a 272-page document.

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Rudolf Martin June 15, 2012 at 08:15 AM
Good questions, @Riley. But 'commingled' is such a negative word... The RDA was indeed made up of our beloved 5 City Council members and has been dissolved. But of course the fearless five live on to 'wind down' the RDA's affairs. They now call themselves 'The Successor Agency' and are governed by a 'Board of Directors'. Who sits on this board? You guessed it: our beloved 5 City Council members. And not to be neglected our esteemed City Manager has been made 'Executive Director' of 'The Successor Agency'. But in case you wonder if there is any oversight don't be alarmed: after all there is an 'Oversight Board' to the 'Successor Agency'. Who sits on this Oversight Board? You guessed it: our esteemed City Manager. So I'm pretty sure they'll do what's best.
Shawn Thompson June 15, 2012 at 10:12 AM
@Djaluvit Does the budget then give Sam Baxter a increase from his current 215,00 year salary for these extra duties?
Chloe Ross June 18, 2012 at 05:57 PM
Parsing a 267/297 page budget that is gobbledegook at the CC meeting tonight will keep us all there until shabbos a fortnight as they say in North London. Stay. No matter how you feel, look or think - stay. Don't leave. Do not allow the Gang of Five and Mao to wear you out and down. Nap if you must - discreetly - but stay in that chamber because an agenda like this is gonna burn some midnight oil. Suggest you also bone up on the Brown Act which allows the Gang to ignore your comments and I am not sure it actually does.
Daisy S June 18, 2012 at 07:17 PM
.... items on tonight's City Council agenda that affect ALL of us… (1) Fees — FEES are being RAISED — of particular interest is Residential Permit Parking, which is being increased by 50%. (2) The City's budget — more consultants' fees?, a new City Hall?, INCREASES TO EMPLOYEE PAY/BENEFITS?....SERIOUSLY?? --- HOW ABOUT A NEW CITY MANAGER WHO CAN MANAGE??
Rudolf Martin June 18, 2012 at 08:01 PM
raising more money from the residents via Residential Parking Permits (including those with extremely limited resources) for the city to spend on nonsensical projects (as detailed ad nauseum by many residents in these blogs) would really be a new low. i ask (rhetorically): If the City is really 'in the black' why do we need to bleed the residents for even more revenue?

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