The Placentia City Council unanimously approved a budget for 2010-11 Tuesday that included $3.6 million in reductions, almost one-third of them created by leaving 10 vacancies in the Police Department.
After two years of unprecedented revenue declines, administrators and City Council members expressed hope that the worst is behind them.
The last two years, the city has experienced a 28 percent drop in revenue. In January, the city had to accommodate $2 million in lower-than-expected revenue for the previous fiscal year.
“There is certainly not a lot we can do to stimulate the economy, but the best thing we can do for now and for the future is work for the best and plan for the worst,” Councilman Jeremy Yamaguchi said.
A representative from the Cathy Torres Learning Center expressed consternation about the city’s decision to close the facility for the summer. The center offers community children access to computers and recreational services and offers homework help. The center will reopen in the fall. In the interim, the 40 children who use the facility will be shuttled to another facility.
“When it starts to affect employees and children, these are hard positions,” said Mayor Joseph Aguirre said. “We have tried be fair across the board.”
Aguirre and Councilman Scott Nelson both expressed disappointment that the city will be forced to cancel the annual Las Posadas, the city’s December tamales festival that brought between 8,000 to 15,000 people to the city. The event provides a boon for business in the area, Nelson said.
For the current budget, council members expressed concern for all those who have suffered from the revenue declines. The city has slashed the budget by 20 percent over the last two years.
Everything has been put under review.
Park lawns under Placentia jurisdiction will be allowed to grow an extra week before being mowed. The city also will no longer be able to repair sidewalks adjacent to homes; legally, it’s the responsibility of the resident. The city will save $246,00 in maintenance reductions for 2010-11.
City employees have especially felt the pressure. The city has cut 14 employees and will consider cuts to some part-time positions. The city has put forward an early retirement option for employees over and near age 55.
“It’s a living document, and hopefully, we can revive certain programs. But it could go the other way,” Aguirre said.
— JOHN SAKATA