Balanced budget calls for increases in public safety, other projects
At Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, City Manager Ken Pulskamp presented the budget for fiscal year 2007-2008.
The budget is balanced, and runs in the neighborhood of $159,000,000.
A few highlights of the budget include increased public safety measures and the beginnings of new projects the City has in mind. Below, some of the highlights are listed more specifically:
Pulskamp is asking for a Graffiti Abatement Program Specialist to be added to City staff. He reported that in 2006, 5,500 graffiti incidents were removed, and 100 arrests were made with a 100% conviction rate. As a result, four tagging crews were completely shut down. This new specialist would further that progress. In addition, he is asking for a pressure wash trailer and a paint matching system to that can match paint at the graffiti removal site.
A 7.5% increase in the contract with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department also found its way in the budget. This would increase resources available to the City. Bringing on a Business Community Sergeant is proposed to aid local businesses in preventing crime, and one new patrol deputy is also included to help keep Santa Clarita safe. As far as technology goes, $48,000 is set aside to purchase a Mobile Automated License Plate Recognition Program that would automatically scan license plates from a Sheriff’s vehicle as it drives down the road. The unit processes the data and immediately alerts the deputy to stolen or otherwise sought after vehicles.
$850,000 is proposed to begin the design process for a “Big League Dreams Sports Park,” which is a public-private partnership that will build a scaled down version of a famous major league baseball park in Santa Clarita. This facility would host a range of sporting activities for the City. The total cost of the project is estimated at $30 million; however the park is expected to generate $1 million per year in revenue, and is maintained by the private company.
$2.2 million is slated for the Central Park Recreation Phase Three designs, which will include a recreation center and a gymnasium.
$2.4 million will go to start up new projects at the Santa Clarita Activities Center.
$75,000 is also scheduled in the budget to do feasibility studies on the prospect of bringing a Community Center to Canyon Country.
The budget will be up for adoption at the June 12th City Council meeting.
Some hot points with regards to the budget are monies slated for College of the Canyons and the lack of monies for a tennis center.
Councilmember TimBen Boydston voiced concerns over $200,000 that is set to go to College of the Canyons to be split between the University Center and the Performing Arts Center, which plans to hire a grant writer to bring in funds for programs there. TimBen wanted to know what the split percentage was going to be, and he raised questions about the City’s roughly 30% share in the usage of the PAC, and whether or not that was going to increase. Ken Pulskamp said that the talks with College of the Canyons have not yet yielded specifics as to what percent of the money goes to which programs.
In a strong show of force, over forty tennis players showed up to the meeting to ask why a tennis center was not included in the budget for this year, after it was recommended as a top priority by the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission. The attendees cited a severe lack of facilities for residents to play tennis either leisurely or in leagues. The City’s response was for the residents to continue to make their voices heard and to participate in the upcoming events where citizens get to put in their two cents to the City’s park planners.