David Mendez

LA County fire services study included in new budget

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by David Mendez

A $30,000 study by Los Angeles County that would explore replacing the Redondo Beach Fire Department with LA County Fire services was approved by the City Council at its June 19 meeting, as part of the city’s $92.38 million FY ‘18-’19 budget. The study may bring the city closer to closing the books on a department that began as a volunteer fire brigade in 1892.

The council also approved slightly higher fees for admission to Seaside Lagoon and other city facilities.

The budget reflects two realities, according to City Manager Joe Hoegen’s executive summary: Redondo won’t see as much revenue growth this year compared to past years; and the city expects an increase of about $3.6 million in pension, legal liability, and workers compensation costs this year over last.

To meet those ends, the city cut the budget by $858,787 through permanently or temporarily cutting six, open full-time jobs, reorganizing Redondo Police jobs, and terminating its $86,000 agreement with the Redondo Beach Chamber of Commerce to provide support for special events and directories.

Also in that final package, the council dipped into a reserve fund intended to prepare the city for future increases in pension liabilities. Despite projecting a $1.9 million increase in California Public Employee Retirement System obligations, the city is pulling $277,391 from the city’s $6.2 million CalPERS Reserve Fund.

Seaside Lagoon users will see family season passes increase to $150, and individual passes increase to $80, from $125 and $75 respectively. Daily adult passes will go up by one dollar to $8 per day. Child rates will remain unchanged.

Overnight camping at Wilderness Park will go up as well, by one dollar for all users: Adults will pay $6 per night, and children will pay $4 per night. Rental adjustments were also made for Seaside Lagoon, Wilderness Park, senior centers, and the Aviation Park facilities All of these fee increases will begin July 1.

The increases were less than proposed by staff.

“I’m not faulting you for wanting to do this, but we have to be careful about the percentage we raise fees,” Councilman Todd Loewenstein said. “I’m okay about incrementally raising them. Keeping up with inflation is important, but it’s difficult to raise fees by 25 percent a year.”

The adopted budget also signifies major shifts in the city’s future through 46 Council-approved “Decision Packages.” Among those decisions, a $150,000 study will look at the removal of the overhead utility wires running from the AES property to Dominguez Park.

The city has also set aside $100,000 to create an Enhanced Infrastructure Financing District, which would peel new tax revenue generated from an area to fund public development on the former power plant site.

The waning influence of the Chamber of Commerce was further evident as a planned $27,000 fee waiver for the Super Bowl 10K being cut to $12,250. At the same time, the Council opted to waive up to $2,500 for the Riviera Village Halloween Trick or Treat, and up to $12,500 for the LA Kings 10K charity run.

Finally, the Council approved $45,050 in capital improvement funds to update the King Harbor Watercraft Hand Launch, including $29,150 for an outdoor shower – a long-desired wish of the waterman-in-chief, Mayor Bill Brand.

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