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Council to review options to address Glendale budget deficit

City's budget shortfall could range between $1.7M next fiscal year and reach $5.5M in 2018-19.

April 30, 2014|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com

Although city fees related to Glendale’s building boom and a rebound in post-recession sales taxes are expected to boost resources for the city’s budget, rising pension, medical, and other costs are expected to eat into those increases, leaving Glendale with deficits over the next seven years.

The deficits, which could range between $1.7 million next fiscal year, which begins July 1, and top off at $5.5 million in fiscal year 2018-19, followed by a steady decline, could be tackled in two ways, City Manager Scott Ochoa said on Tuesday morning during the first budget study session for next year.

The City Council could keep the status quo, which would continue a salary freeze, minus automatic salary bumps for some employees who score well on performance reviews and already agreed-upon future cost-of-living increases, or offer retirement incentives for miscellaneous and management staff.

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Glendale slimmed down its workforce by about 14%, dropping personnel to 1,605, in fiscal year 2012-13 compared to the prior year through retirement incentives.

But that workforce reduction cost more than $1.6 million and another round would also cost money, although final numbers have yet to be crunched. Another round of retirement incentives could come from freezing vacant positions for six months to build up funding, according to a city report.

While keeping the status quo would allow Glendale to “muddle through” the “relatively small” deficits, which are a far cry from the $15.4 million and $18 million deficits of the recent past, Ochoa recommended the retirement incentives to get Glendale structurally solid.

The majority of the City Council, including Mayor Zareh Sinanyan, said during the meeting they were on board with reviewing that option.

Councilman Dave Weaver said as the public continues to oppose tax increases — even one that would only impact hotel users — and state laws siphoning money away from Glendale continues, the city has to take bold steps to keep up the services residents expect.

“Everybody has got to realize it’s a new day. It’s going to be tough on everybody, the residents and the employees, for the foreseeable future,” Weaver said.

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