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Council Approves $36.6 Million City Budget

Councilman Bobko casts the only dissenting vote, citing the city's unwillingness to cut certain costs, including parking enforcement.

The Hermosa Beach City Council voted 4-1 on Tuesday to approve a $36.6 million city budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

The new balanced budget, which includes a $2 million surplus, will see a 2 percent increase in revenue from property taxes, an 8 percent increase in sales tax revenue and a 3 percent increase in hotel occupancy tax revenue, according to city documents.

The budget was also achieved with a 13 percent reduction in staff.

, councilman Kit Bobko cast the only dissenting vote on the budget, arguing that the city was not looking into cost-cutting measures, including his proposal to outsource the city's parking enforcement services to a private company.  

"If we outsource ... We could get off our books almost $3 million worth of legacy costs, almost $900,000 a year in salary costs, increase our revenue by, probably, around half a million dollars and yet, we are not interested in that," Bobko told the council. 

for outsourced parking enforcement at the June 12 council meeting, but the motion failed to garner enough support from council members. Instead, the council voted to hold off discussions on the issue until September, when a new city manger will be in place.

"I don't know why we are so afraid of this," Bobko said on Tuesday. "Actually, I do understand why ... We are afraid to cross the public unions in this city."

Councilman Peter Tucker expressed disappointment that Bobko chose to bring up his parking enforcement proposal at the final hour. 

"It is not going to happen tonight, and we all know that," said Tucker. "This notion that we are not looking at these items to cut costs is, I think, not a true statement."

Bobko also took issue with a $5,600 per year fitness incentive program for the fire department, which offers a cash bonus for firefighters who reach a certain level of fitness, according to Fire Chief David Lantzer.

While grilling the fire chief on the incentive program, Bobko equated the program to paying firefighters to work out on the job, which he said no other city or private employee gets paid to do.

"I am completely unaware of anyone in the private sector who is paid to work out during their job," Bobko argued.  "We are paying guys not to get overweight so they don't get heart attacks," he said. 

Chief Lantzer told Bobko that he sees the incentive program as an investment in his staff. No other city job requires the fitness level of a firefighter, he said. "They have to do their part on duty and off duty ... It is our part of saying we support you," said Lantzer. 

"There are different ways to look at fitness," added Mayor Jeff Duclos, who pointed out that other city employees are paid during work hours to receive additional training and education.

Interim City Manager John Jalili said that general employee incentive programs help reduce health costs in other cities. 

Before committing to a no vote on the budget, Bobko also warned the council that he thinks the city's $2 million surplus could easily disappear.

"The idea that cities are going to maintain a surplus on their budgets while the governor needs, I don't know, $16 billion, is a dream," he said. "It is a pipe dream."

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