Malibu Surfside News

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Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Proposed City of Malibu Budget Calls for More Belt Tightening

• ‘Conservative’ Approach Focuses on Streamlining-—Panel’s  Request for Two More Deputies Is Nixed


The Malibu City Council will gets its first look at the proposed budget for fiscal year 2012-2013 at its budget workshop this week after the Malibu Surfside News went to press.
The proposed general fund budget totals $20.6 million in revenues and $20.5 million in expenses.
Assistant City Manager Reva Feldman was expected to tell council members that more belt tightening is called for in the upcoming proposed budget.
In her staff report she says,  “The proposed budget has been developed extremely conservatively with an emphasis on streamlining services in order to reduce costs.”
A Public Safety Commission recommendation to add two new deputies for deployment in Malibu has been axed. “The estimated cost for two additional deputies is $500,000 a year. This amount has not been included in the proposed budget,” Feldman noted.
Almost $7 million in funding for five upcoming projects are not included in the upcoming budget, according to Feldman, and are being described as unfunded expenditures.
They include $1 million for skatepark construction, $500,000 for the Kanan arrestor bed, $2 million for the projects included in the settlement agreement with the Natural Resources Defense Council. and over $3.3 million in wastewater treatment studies, including ground water feasibility and an Environmental Impact Report and final design.
“Funding may need to be allocated during the fiscal year 2012-2013 in order to accomplish these high priority projects,” the assistant city manager pointed out.
There is some good news among a rather bleak financial picture.
One of the city’s major revenue sources, property taxes, are projected to increase $100,000 to $6,850,000 from the 2011-2012 budgeted amount, according to Feldman.
Sales tax income is expected to increase $175,000 from the previous fiscal year’s budget.
The transient occupancy tax is expected to maintain a steady course of revenue showing no decline.
Feldman indicated the budget for many service categories are planned to show decreases.
The overall budget for management services has decreased from the prior fiscal year from $2.6 million to $1.8 million.
Feldman is expected to explain that the completion of certain professional services agreements in the city manager’s budget and a decrease in litigation expenses in the legal counsel budget account for the majority of the decrease.
The overall public safety budget has decreased a net total of $38,000 from the prior fiscal year.
“The budget for public safety does not reflect any changes to the services provided to the city by the sheriff’s department and includes the Beach Team services of $482,000 as well as the additional deputy approved in the prior year at the rate of $250,000,” Feldman wrote in her staff report.
The overall budget for administrative services has decreased from $7.3 million to $6.7 million.
Staffing costs remain a double edged sword. Several vacant positions are not being funded for the upcoming fiscal year amounting to nearly $400,000 savings.
The proposed budget provides for 60 full-time employees and part-time employees and student interns, amounting to the total of 75 full time equivalent employees.
The annual cost-of-living increases will kick in for the staff this year that are based on the change in the consumer price index, which inceased 2.1 percent and is included in the proposed budget.
Post-employment benefits include $251,000 for retired employees. The same amount has been included in the last two fiscal years, according to Feldman.
“The city’s annual ongoing expenses for other post-employment benefits will be approximately $275,000 a year, which includes approximately $200,000 to remain current for retiree benefits for existing employees and $75,000 toward accrued liability of $1 million,” the assistant city manager reported.
Other expenses closing in on the city include the budget for City Hall operations, which has increased $1.1 million as a result of the debt service because of the acquisition and improvements at City Hall.

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