The Star-News


Budget report needs second look

Fri, Jun 08 2012 12:27 AM Posted By: Allison K. Sampité

The majority of the Chula Vista City Council rejected a verbal report from city staff regarding the fiscal year budget for 2012-13.

Patricia Aguilar, Steve Castaneda and Rudy Ramirez voted down City Manager Jim Sandoval’s proposed budget due to suggestions they feel need to be included.

Mayor Cheryl Cox and Councilwoman Pamela Bensoussan voted to accept it.

The underlying issues included additional police staffing resources and a verified alarm measure, additional maintenance and repair for parks and city signage and code enforcement.

City staff said that additional park maintenance and repair, at a cost of $115,191 using one-time grant monies, would address some concerns.

Aguilar wants staff to find money in the budget to better maintain parks.

Sandoval said the city has been using a program to leverage money, which includes $1 to every $8 to have parolees do extra maintenance. However, he said, spread across more than 50 parks, it only helps so much.

Staff discussed expediting an alarm measure to begin at the end of this year.

Chula Vista Police Chief David Bejarano said the department would move forward soon to hold community forums (at least three) to educate the city.

“It increases proactive time (from 20 to 40 percent) and allows officers to serve as backup…” he said.

Aguilar also brought up the issue of signage in the city.

“The first matter is with code enforcement,” she said. “There seems to be a lot of illegal signs that go up willy-nilly.”

Sandoval said the city spent a couple hundred thousand dollars to do a comprehensive update of signs about five years ago.

“It was a monumental effort,” he said. “It specifies what’s allowed and not allowed.”

Assistant City Manager Gary Halbert said the cost for a full-on sign enforcement program would be $250,000.

“We’re trying to scramble to find a way to make ends meet,” Sandoval said. “We had $172 million (a few) years ago and $124 million today. I think the services we’re providing are phenomenal, considering that.”

City staff will incorporate the suggested changes into the proposed budget and will be presented a final time June 19, at which time council is expected to adopt the budget.

In other City Council news, a resolution to approve city administrative procedures for hotel and motel owners to petitions to disestablish with the city’s Tourism and Marketing District was continued to the next council meeting.

Aguilar asked City Attorney Glen Googins to incorporate several amendments in a draft he created for disestablishment.

Within the description of the petition to disestablish, it states that if a hotel or motel owner wants to disestablish, they can sign up between July 14 and Aug. 12 to do so.

“The problem with all this is that when the TMD was established in July 2009, we had no written procedures,” Aguilar said. “No criteria were used. They were accepted at face value with petitions to establish it. But to disestablish it, there are all these rules…”

She also called a protest process burdensome, which she said allows the Chamber of Commerce to challenge the petition if it has issues with it.

“Really the only material difference between the original petition form and the disestablished one is a certification (by swearing under penalty of perjury) by the person petitioning that they are the owner of the business,” Googins said.

“I don’t think this process is burdensome, I think its appropriate,” Googins said. “The more coherent our process is, the less work we’ll have to do to investigate if petitions aren’t valid.”

Council will review the final version from staff before it’s sent out to hotel/motel owners and will come back for approval at the Tuesday, June 12, council meeting to be mailed out immediately afterward.


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