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Half-Billion-Dollar Budget Kicks in Wednesday

By Lookout Staff

June 29, 2009 – The City Council last week approved a half-billion-dollar budget for the 2009-10 fiscal year that avoids layoffs and cutbacks, but jacks up the cost of parking and library fines and imposes a new fee for shops that sell tobacco.

The $510 million budget -- which goes into effect Wednesday -- represents an 8.1 percent decrease from the current $524.7 million budget, but manages to actually increase the general fund by 1 percent to $262.3 million.

The biggest new revenue source -- $2.2 million -- comes from the hike in parking fines from $40 to $47 for expired meters and from $52 to $61 for street sweeping and preferential parking violations.

An increase in late fees for library books -- from 20 to 25 cents for adults and 10 to 15 cents for children -- will help generate another $59,000. Interlibrary loan fees will go from $2 to $5, while the cost of high-resolution images will rise from $12 to $15 per file.

The budget also generates new revenues by imposing a tobacco retailer license fee of $145.35 to recover the City’s costs in enforcing, administering and educating the public about the City’s smoking ban. In addition, it hikes the business license processing fee for tobacco shops from $15.80 to $25.25.

Planned hikes in the fees for City youth sports programs that were expected to generate some $30,000 were covered by a council allocation.

In addition, the council allocated $205,000 for additional tree trimming and $50,000 to help the Santa Monica Historical Society Museum jump start construction of a new facility at the Santa Monica Main Library.

Other allocations included $27,500 for additional inspection of deed restricted housing and $60,000 for environmental documentation to implement a plastic bag ban, a cost that could be covered by other city governments interested in imposing a similar ban.

The increase in fees and fines will help offset a decrease in tax revenues during the sharp economic downturn.

The new budget keeps the City’s $25.6 million reserve intact for use in the event of a major catastrophe.




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