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City's budget delayed again Allison K. Sampité | Sat, Jun 16 2012 12:00 PM

A report given by Chula Vista City Manager Jim Sandoval on next fiscal year’s proposed budget was again rejected by the City Council so that more changes could be made.

An initial proposed budget was presented to council last week but was continued after council members asked to incorporate changes.

Councilman Rudy Ramirez on Tuesday proposed several additions for 2012-13 fiscal year budget, some of which were adamantly opposed by other council members.

Ramirez asked that council support consolidating the library and recreation departments into one and making it the “library and community services department.”

“The goal would be to save approximately $200,000 and $300,000 and reallocate those savings to actual programs that “actually touch people,” Ramirez said, adding that the money could go toward first line services.

Sandoval said the library would suffer, but the proposal passed anyway with Mayor Cheryl Cox and Councilwoman Pamela Bensoussan opposing the move.

In addition, Ramirez proposed carving out approximately $300,000 from the City Attorney’s Office budget to be available in the event council must hire outside counsel because of  a conflict of interest with the City Attorney’s Office. Councilman Steve Castaneda was on board with Ramirez’s idea.

“With Prop. C, I think we’d carve out a special fund that would be used for that legislative council without having a super majority requirement and all the money that’s not used would go into the general fund at the end of the year,” Castaneda said.

“There’s a combination of funds that the city draws on for outside legal assistance or when it’s involved in litigation,” City Attorney Glen Googins said.

Bensoussan said the proposal contradicts the ballot language for Prop. C, which suggests it will save the city money.

“We should be looking at a disclosure policy,” she said. “I don’t want to put a measure on the ballot without it being properly vetted in the community.”

The item passed 3 to 2, with Cox and Bensoussan opposed.

Ramirez also suggested hiring two additional police officers to get the city to the minimum staffing level of 218.

Staff found that adding more police would hardly improve the department’s proactive response times and isn’t necessary.

Castaneda said adding more bodies will go a long way.

The proposed addition passed 4 to 1, with Cox opposed.

Ramirez also proposed allocating $160,000 in the City Clerk’s Office to support an unnamed ballot initiative.

City Clerk Donna Norris said the city currently has $180,000 set aside for a council seat and one proposition and adding another measure would cost approximately $100,000.

Cox said she wouldn’t support putting money aside for a “phantom” ballot measure with no fiscal analysis.

“Before the council puts an item on the ballot for the people’s consideration we should have a policy,” she said.
Ramirez said that fiscal analysis would be part of the process later on.

“I look back at the lack of fiscal analysis for Prop. C…” Bensoussan said. “I think that good government says that before you bring a ballot measure to the public you have a healthy discussion with the public.”

It passed with Cox and Bensoussan opposed.

Bensoussan proposed staff prepare a policy stating that ballot items must provide financial analysis. It was approved 3 to 2 with Castaneda and Ramirez opposed.

In addition, Aguilar proposed funding nature center utility costs for a few more years at $75,000 instead of staff’s proposed $18,000. It was approved 5-0.

The cost of the additional changes totaled approximately $500,000.

Staff will return to council June 28, for a public hearing and council adoption of the budget.

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