The City Council this week adopted a roughly $833-million budget for fiscal year 2014-15, which begins July 1, and a variety of fee changes.
Two hotly contested fee proposals — bumping the costs of a Mills Act application, which provides a tax break to owners of historic homes, from $1,250 to $10,500, and historic districts from $2,083 to $6,500 — were reversed at the Tuesday council meeting after the Glendale Historical Society sent a letter criticizing the planned boosts.
Councilman Ara Najarian, who suggested ratcheting up the fees, withdrew his support of the increase, but said he wanted to schedule a deeper discussion about the historic property-related charges for a later date.
The total budget increased $95 million from last year. Within the total budget, the General Fund budget, which pays for parks, police and other general services, was set at $182 million, up by approximately $11 million compared to last year.
TOTAL BUDGET (toggle over graphics to see figures)
A General Fund budget gap of $495,000 is expected to be covered from savings netted this fiscal year, according to a city report. This budget cycle featured a relatively small deficit. In recent years, Glendale had to bridge multimillion-dollar budget gaps.
City pensions continue to be a major cost driver as rates the city pays to the California Public Employees' Retirement System are reaching historic highs. Pension rates are forecast to cost the city about $20.1 million, after employee cost-sharing, in the upcoming fiscal year, or 11.5% of the budget. That's up from $18.9 million, or 11.1% of the budget, compared to last year. Medical costs are also expected to increase 10% annually over the next five years, according to a budget presentation.
FOR THE RECORD: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the city had set aside roughly $897,000 for a new round of retirement incentives. Rather, that amount will pay for a portion of a previously approved retirement incentive. The new round of incentives will be paid for using a portion of funding included in the $225,716,815 budget for total citywide salary and benefits for fiscal year 2014-15.
Some capital improvement budget highlights include $5.1 million to partially cover the planned $15 million Central Library revamp, which features changing the library's entrance to Harvard Street, adding steps along the new entryway, moving a staircase and adding a new elevator. Part of the $1 million budgeted for capital improvements for the Fire Department will cover female shower and locker room improvements at Fire Station 29, along with other renovations.
Following the budget adoption, the council must still tackle a $9.9-million deficit in Glendale Water & Power's water fund. The council has proposed four years of water-rate increases, which could increase monthly water bills for average single-family residences and commercial customers by $17.98 and $16.67, respectively, by fiscal year 2017-18, to get the utility out of the red.
ENTERPRISE: Additional city funds
The city is hosting several community meetings on the proposed increases, including one Thursday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Police Community Room, 131 N. Isabel St. The council is set to vote on the proposed water rates next month.