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Council gives initial OK to two-year budget

Laguna aims to maintain service levels and reserves and be ready to make adjustments reflecting labor negotiations.

May 23, 2013|By Barbara Diamond

The City Council gave a passing grade Tuesday to the proposed budget for the next two fiscal years.

Tweaks discussed by the council were passed on to City Manager John Pietig for incorporation into the final version of the 2013-14/2014-15 budget, scheduled to be approved at the June 18 meeting. The two-year budget is a first for Laguna.

"Why a two-year budget? We are just getting more details earlier," Councilman Steven Dicterow said. "We are not setting it in stone."

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Updates and an opportunity to modify the budget will also be presented to the council at public meetings in January and June of 2014, before the start of the next fiscal year.

The proposed operating and capital improvement budget for 2013-14 is estimated at $68.5 million, and at $67.5 million for 2014-15.

Service levels and financial reserves will be maintained, Pietig said. However, labor negotiations are underway and the budget will need to be adjusted to reflect any agreements.

The annual Community Assistance grants are budgeted but will not be specified until the June 18 meeting. Mayor Kelly Boyd and Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Pearson volunteered to compile a recommended list of recipients.

"Laguna has emerged from the recession in a more streamlined fashion," Pietig said. "We need to be cautious, but there is a little bit of money for one-time expenditures."

Tuesday's review of the draft budget included consideration of the wish list, to be funded by unspent funds from the 2012-13 fiscal year.

"They are not [funded] in the budget either because there is no funding or because of competing requests," Pietig said.

Resident Chris Prelitz complained that neither the budget nor the wish list included funding for Complete Streets projects. "There is $5 million for the Village Entrance and we were told other projects wouldn't suffer," Prelitz said.

Woods Cove resident Larry Ulvestad told the council that the people he talks to resent city money being spent on the Village Entrance or for undergrounding utilities on Laguna Canyon Road rather than undergrounding in neighborhoods.

Danielle Ward asked to have a community swimming pool added to the wish list because of the problems residents have in getting pool time.

"We are having more and more problems with the school district," Ward said. "City programs begin late and kids are not getting to bed until 10 or 11 p.m."

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