The City of Azusa has announced a balanced budget with no lay-offs. A last-minute change in a field enforcement position leaves $93,945 in surplus from the $34.6 million general fund and an overall budget of $57.9 million. The proposed budget is a far cry from the 2012-2013 fiscal year, when the city faced a deficit of $2 million and imposed more than a dozen layoffs to close the gap. The city is planning to spend $22.3 million on public safety, a more than $688,000 increase from the previous fiscal year budget, and maintain services for public works. Public benefit programs from Azusa Light and Water will see a nearly 40 percent drop, however, with $509,000 less in funding budgeted for the new fiscal year. Though the Azusa City Library will see an increase in funding for general services, the amount of grant funding drops nearly in half so the library is applying for new grants.
An administrative law judge has ruled against undergrounding high-voltage powerlines through a portion of Chino Hills citing the state’s ratepayers should not have to pay the cost of the project. A proposed decision by Administrative Law Judge Jean Vieth has denied the city’s request to place the lines below ground, saying while undergrounding is feasible and could be completed on a timely basis “the cost is prohibitive and should not be borne by ratepayers at large for the benefit of a few.” However, an alternative proposed decision by state Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey sided with Chino Hills to underground a portion of the project and orders Southern California Edison to construct an single circuit line underground. For five years Chino Hills has insisted Edison’s 5-mile right-of-way is too narrow for the 198-foot high-voltage towers, and that they cause hazards and potentially unknown health issues. City officials and a residents group – Hope for the Hills – have been advocating the lines to be built underground, while Edison officials have said undergrounding would be expensive and makes the system less reliable. The Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project was approved in 2009 by the PUC, but it has been on hold since 2011 as the final outcome is debated by the commission. The 225-mile Tehachapi project costs $2.1 billion, and when complete is expected to bring wind-produced electricity from Kern County to the Los Angeles Basin. Estimates for undergrounding through Chino Hills would be an additional $268 million to $296 million, according to the ALJ’s documentation. The strip of land being considered for undergrounding through the city is about 3.5 miles long and begins west at the end of Eucalyptus Avenue and goes between Pipeline Avenue and the 71 Freeway and then into Chino and Ontario. Six years ago in May residents first approached the City Council asking them to help fight Edison’s proposed route.
The El Monte City Council unanimously approved the El Monte Norms Restaurant Project, a $4 million, 6,900-square-foot development that has been long planned for the southeast corner of Valley Boulevard and Santa Anita Avenue. As part of the project, the City Council also approved a plan in which Norms will be allowed exclusive access of up to 47 public parking spaces on what is currently a vacant city-owned parcel in exchange for $1 a year. City officials will negotiate the final terms of the proposed agreement and bring it back for final City Council approval at a public hearing in May. The vacant site was formerly home to a flower shop, tire retailer and small strip of businesses. The city acquired the site for $4 million and cleared it in order to make traffic and street improvements at the intersection. The upgrades to the intersection will reduce traffic congestion by widening the street to form new turning lanes and a bus turnout. The upgrades are scheduled to be completed by June. Because the acquisition of the businesses on that corner were paid by a portion of redevelopment money, any business proposed on that property will be subject to approval of the redevelopment oversight board. After the state dismantled redevelopment, oversight boards were created to oversee the disposition of redevelopment properties. The oversight board, which has recently heard a presentation of the project, will review the disposition of the property. It will then vote on whether to transfer it from the successor agency to the city’s nonprofit economic development corporation, El Monte Smart Growth. Officials said they anticipate between $35,000 and $50,000 in annual sales tax revenues and $64,000 in property taxes. Norms must continuously employ 40 El Monte residents for a five-year period, with 20 of these employees from low- to moderate-income households. To facilitate that, the city will reward the company with a $700,000 CDBG job creation grant. Additionally, the city also will secure a $700,000 construction loan for Norms. If all goes as planned, city officials said a groundbreaking would take place in October, and Norms would open in the spring.
The Glendora City Council passed a resolution adopting prudent 2013-2014 fiscal budget for the city and Housing Authority. Overall, the budget maintains a status quo.. The city anticipates revenues of just under $55.2 million with around $24 million in the general fund. In the past five years, the city has seen more than 26 percent in cuts, including axing 58 full-time positions and losing $2.3 million in the budget. For the 2013-2014 fiscal year, the budget proposal recommended increased part-time librarian hours, the conversion of two part-time police positions into a full-time non-sworn community services officer, the elimination of a part-time planning manager position and a shift in funding sources for several accounts. Property taxes consist of more than a third of the city’s general fund revenues, with $10.5 million projected for the 2013 fiscal year and $9.2 million proposed for the 2014 fiscal year budget. Though the numbers reflect the $2.1 million bump from the one-time return of the property taxes after the redevelopment agencies’ end, the city is expected to see a 1.8 percent increase in property taxes. The council also passed a resolution to contract animal control services with the Inland Valley Humane Society, which had previously been handled by the Glendora Police Department and the IVHS. The move is a cost-neutral option that increases the level of service offered.
With the two main industry groups in Irwindale showing signs of a slow recovery, for the first time since the beginning of the recession, tax revenues are expected to be higher than they were in the previous year. The city’s main sources of revenue are sales taxes, utility users’ tax, mining tax and property taxes, which will total $12.5 million in the 2013-14 general fund operating revenues, according to a report by the city Finance Department. Last year, the city collected $12.3 million from those sources. Total general fund revenues for 2013-14 are projected at $14.9 million. City Council looked at a preliminary 2013-14 budget with expenditures totaling $18.2 million at a study session May 22. Last year, city departments were asked to reduce their budgets by 5 percent, and those cuts continue in the 2013-14 budget, according to the report. However, during the budget process, about $380,000 in additional spending priorities were identified in various city departments, such as police programs, legal fees, coyote mitigation, holiday decorations, computer replacements and professional services. The City Council also added items such as an additional night of swimming at the city pool and median maintenance and repairs. The council added several of those items to the 2013-14 budget, bringing expenditures to $18.5 million. The city will have a structural deficit of $3.6 million. In order to adopt a balanced budget, the city will use $3.6 million in general fund reserves, estimated at $20.3 million for July 1, 2013. That leaves the reserves at $16.7 million, or 90 percent of budgeted expenditures, according to the report.
With an one-time infusion of $1.3 million generated from new development, the La Verne City Council was able to pass a $45,4 million balanced budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year. Costs were up by $1 million, but the dollars from new residential, commercial and industrial developments allowed city officials to close the gap between revenues and expenditures.. One of the tough decisions the council faced during the meeting revolved around the council’s unanimous vote to have La Verne Fire Department employees pay a larger percentage into the Public Employees Retirement System. The PERS issue caused an impasse between the city and La Verne Firefighters Association earlier this year. The former, faced with financial constraints and growing personnel costs, asked firefighters to pay an additional 6 percent of their salaries to the state retirement system and it would reimburse them for 4 percent of that cost. Firefighters rejected the idea, noting that many had come to and stayed in the La Verne department because of the city’s willingness to pay 6 percent of firefighters’ retirement contribution. In considering the change in the PERS allocation, firefighters later suggested the city reimburse 5 percent. Firefighters, who had been paying 3 of the required 9 percent under a previous memorandum of understanding, wanted the city to pay the additional 6 percent of the employees’ PERS contribution. Because of the LVFA rejection of the panel’s impasse resolution, the city had no legal choice it had to approve its best, last, final option for the 4 percent reimbursement. Council members voiced regret about the sticking point with firefighters, but they said they were obligated to assure the city’s financial solvency in all matters. They face similar situations with all employee groups and they couldn’t make a costly exception of $150,000 for one group.
The city has a $169.7 million operating budget. Within the operating budget is the city’s $81.3 million general fund which is used to pay for services such as police, fire, the library, tree trimming and parks and recreation. The general fund contains the police department’s budget which totals $42.7 millionCity Council members unanimously adopted this balanced budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year that contains provisions for a slight increase in Pomona Public Library service hours and an increase in the Police Department’s funding. The Police Department was allocated $2.3 million more than it did in the 2012-2013 fiscal year budget when it received $39.8 million. The money will go to pay several expenses including an increase in retirement costs, longevity and education incentives and other costs. An unexpected increase in the city’s fire services contract ended up putting the budget $635,700 over budget. The gap was closed by trimming back in various departments including taking $581,440 that had been allocated to police but not earmarked for any specific purpose but could have gone to overtime, some additional hires, special details or used to build up the city’s reserves, city administrators said. Under the 2013-2014 budget, grant dollars will still be available for the operations the Police Department has conducted to address a spike in violent crime that resulted in 12 homicides.
The City Council has unanimously adopted a $65 million general fund budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The budget represents a $1.8 million or 2.9 percent increase from the previous fiscal year. Among highlights in the budget is $508,680 to replenish the city’s capital reserve fund. With this move, officials hope to offset the impact of the previous year’s dissolution of the Redevelopment Agency. The disollution had wiped out $150 million in reserves the city had saved over the past two decades. The economic downturn of the past five years also resulted in a 20 percent reduction of city staff, with remaining workers having to take on additional roles and work. This year’s budget proposal includes an allocation of $694,400 to address reclassifications of employees, position upgrades, and staff development. The budget also marks the end of full-time employee furloughs. The police budget increased by $1.4 million because of a rise in pension and labor costs. Because of rising costs for policing, city officials will spend $60,000 this year for a cost-benefit analysis reviewing options. Among them: to keep services from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, contracting with another department, or creating a new city police department.
The City Council approved a 2013-14 balanced budget of $27.9 million city staff happily reported the city will bring in $1.1 million more revenue than needed to meet expenditures for the upcoming fiscal year. The council unanimously adopted the budget which increased general fund reserves to $21.5 million and maintained municipal services and staffing. Although one disgruntled resident demanded council members spend the money rather than maintain a significant cash reserve. City staff noted that the amount kept in cash reserves represents 86 percent of the total budget and therefore helps maintain the city’s financial solvency. General fund revenues – money that the council has total discretion on how it is spent as opposed to special funds which are restricted to specific or restricted uses – will be about $19 million next year, an increase of $1.1 million from 2012-13. The revenue increase is partly due to one-time savings and new revenues, including $350,000 in extra money generated by the council’s decision to increase the transit occupancy (hotel) tax from 8 percent to 12 percent. The additional revenue makes it possible for the city to reinstate certain capital improvements, including the replacement of old and failing heating and air-conditioning units in city buildings. The Senior Citizen Center had been most plagued by outages and non-operations of the temperature-control equipment, prompting staff and council members to cross their fingers and hope repairs would last through the summer months so seniors wouldn’t swelter. Decisions will be finalized on improvements to city infrastructure, parks and equipment after additional review by the staff and council. Anticipated expenditures for the next fiscal year will cost $17,8 million an amount that is $182,000 less than 2012-13 because of one-time savings realized by a staff reorganization that eliminated several City Hall positions. The staff reductions last year included the housing and development services directors and the entire housing department staff. The difference between income and expenditures is $1,17 million. All city employees keep their jobs with the balanced budget. One position is added – a planning intern – who is a college student to work 40 hours a week during the summer break and 15 to 20 hours weekly when school resumes. The $15,000-per-year staffer will help improve the flow of information between City Hall and residents or business owners regarding procedures, permits and requirements for new business enterprises, residential developments and residential/commercial improvements.
The City Councilt approved a schedule of fees and charges for the contentious administrative citation ordinance, which threatens municipal code violators with daily fines in order to achieve compliance. After months of debate and numerous meetings, the council gave final approval for the ordinance in April. The ordinance became effective on May 22. They have since been required to adopt a schedule to help determine fees and charges associated with processing citations and holding an administrative hearing, should the city request one. The fees are based on the fully burdened labor cost associated with the administrative and hearing process. City staff recommended the initial fees and charges for the city to be discounted from the actual hourly rate of $92.50 to $55 as the administrative citation process begins, according to the staff report. Under the ordinance , code violators will be given a notice with 10 days to respond. If they do not, then they will be given a second notice and an additional 30 days to comply or show city officials they are in the process of fixing the violation. If they still fail to comply, violators will be given a citation adding 15 more days to address the problem without incurring a fine. The property owner will have the opportunity to appeal or request a hearing. If the appeal is granted, the case will be dismissed; otherwise, they will be required to pay the fine. If a hearing is granted, the violator is required to pay a $210 deposit. Waivers are available for people who cannot afford to pay the deposit. If the outcome is in favor of the violator, the case is dismissed. If it is in favor of the city, then the property owner must pay their fines within 16 days or take the city to court. For general violations — such as debris on property, unmaintained parkways or landscapes, needed building maintenance and illegal structures — are $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second offense and $500 for a third offense. Building and safety violations — such as dilapidated structures, unsecured stagnant pool, dilapidated pool fence/gate or sewage outflow — are $500 for a first offense, $750 for a second offense and $1,000 for a third offense.
After 16 years as a council member and a commissioner, Tom King is resigning from the City Council effective July 1. King said he and his wife, Marjorie, have sold their house and are moving to Orange County. He will presumably attend his final city council meeting June 26. The council must decide whether to hold a special election to fill King’s seat, or appoint an interim city council member. The next City Council election is April when King’s seat will be up. King served as mayor four times and is the current mayor, having been appointed mayor by his council colleagues in April. He was first elected to the City Council in 2002. King is a retired Los Angeles Police Department detective. He left the force after 30 years in 2004. He worked in arson-related crimes and bombings. He also was a founding member of the LA Police Commission Task Force on Hate Crimes. He began his affiliation with Walnut as a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission from 1993 to 1999, and from 1999 to 2002 he was a member of the city Planning Commission.
After receiving approval in January, construction is slated to begin in June on a new gated community in West Covina. The 19 single-family homes will be built on 2.3 acres on the site of a former Lutheran Church elementary school and playground at 512 S. Valinda Ave. The homes will range from 2,150 to 2,400 square feet, with three- and four-bedroom designs with eco-friendly features. The community will offer a toddler playground and barbecue area, and is near the Westfield Mall. The church had been actively trying to sell a portion of its 5.1-acre land that includes a vacant pre-school through eighth-grade school, snack bar, walkways, grass athletic field and a sandlot with playground equipment. The site also contains trees that are being removed as part of the residential project. The sanctuary and the parking lot leased out to the East Valley Community Health Center will remain intact. The new homes, designed in partnership with architect Dave Maldonado of D33 Architecture, will be a mix of French and Spanish design.