Culver City Observer -

By Lynne Bronstein
Observer Reporter 

Council Begins Another Budget Struggle


Committee Members Chosen

Newly seated and veteran Council members got business off to a start at the Monday night meeting with a big issue—the 2012-2013 budget---and the lighter issue of choosing members for an assortment of committees.

Culver City Finance Director Jeff Muir gave an overview of the budget, outlining the process for the benefit of the new members.

“A budget is a plan for how to use our resources,” said Muir. He defined a “city budget” as a way “to communicate how to use the resources we assume we’re going to have and to let the public know how our resources are being used.”

Muir then presented a series of graphs and pie charts depicting the various forms of revenue (property taxes, sales taxes, funds, grants) and how the pie is divided into areas that need revenue.

Typically, a city’s funding of city employee salaries and benefits constitutes the largest section of the pie and Culver City spends about half of its total revenues on salaries and benefits.

This fiscal year, the elimination of the Redevelopment Agency is the big factor in figuring the budget. $7.5 million in transfers and reimbursements has been eliminated, as well as 24 full-time positions.

The proposed 2012-2013 budget will require the elimination of 19 positions (a number that includes the 14 positions recently announced).

Muir said that a “slow recovery” is expected and although there is some recovery from sales taxes, and business taxes are holding steady, the five-year outlook shows a “persistent deficit.” However, further reductions would “change what this community is about.”

City Manager John Nachbar gave some additional perspective. Noting that Culver City has reduced its annual operating expenses and has cut positions in non-safety categories, he said that a deficit problem nevertheless exists. He suggested that an alternative to cutting expenditures to is increase revenue through taxes but thought that public opinion research should be done to see how the community feels about more taxes.

In public comment, speaker Paul Ehrlich thought a budget committee should be established and the community should have input. New Council member Meghan Sahli-Wells agreed. “I hope we don’t do slash-and-burn---it’s not what Culver City residents want or need.”

Mayor Andrew Weissman stated: “We are a community that prides itself on its quality of life. We need to discuss [the budget] with the community—they would not want to sacrifice that quality.”

New Council member Jim Clarke suggested that a sales tax might be the best source of revenue and a measure could be put on the November ballot.

The proposed budget will be presented on a by-the-department basis at back-to-back meetings on June 4 and 5, and will be up for approval the following week.

As for the committee appointments, they were done one by one, with Council members volunteering for the positions. Of 28 committees and ad hoc subcommittees, here are some of the appointments:

Los Angeles County City Selection Committee—by law, the Mayor has to be one of the representatives. Therefore Weissman is the rep and Mehaul O’ Leary is the alternate rep.

League of California Cities/Los Angeles County Division; City Legislative Subcommittee—League of California Cities/Los Angeles County Division; Independent Cities Association of Los Angeles County—O’ Leary is the rep and Clarke the alternate.

Independent Cities Risk Management Authority (ICRMA)---Jeff Cooper as Member, with Human Resources Director Serena Wright as Alternate and Claims Coordinator Rachelle Adkins as Substitute Alternate to the ICRMA Governing Board.

Los Angeles County Sanitation District Number 5---by law, Mayor Weissman is Director. Sahli-Wells is Alternate Director.

Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) ---Weissman (by law) and Sahli-Wells.

Westside Cities Council of Governments---Cooper as rep, O’ Leary as Alternate.

Interagency Communications Interoperability System (ICIS)—Clarke as Liaison.

Exposition Line Construction Authority Board of Directors and 10 (A) Agency Metro Subcommittee---O’Leary and Sahli-Wells.

O’Leary and Clarke were appointed as rep and alternate to the Southern California Joint Powers Consortium. However, as the Joint Powers Consortium has not met in several years, it was decided to dissolve the committee. The appointments were made to allow the dissolution process to continue.

The Council also decided to dissolve some other committees including the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) Area Advisory Subcommittee (appointing nobody to this committee), and the Animal Control Subcommittee (which was an ad hoc subcommittee that has completed its work).


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