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City to Review Cost of Public Services

The City Council will meet Thursday to discuss an independent study that outlines the expense of various operations.

In the face of tough economic realities, the City Council plans to review a new independent study of municipal expenses in a meeting Thursday.

The council will take a close look at costs and fee structures related to city public services.

In preparation for the meeting, the council asked the independent firm Revenue and Cost Specialists in Fullerton to produce the study by analyzing all local government operations (see accompanying staff documents under photo). 

Just last week, the City Council held its .

“The City Council engaged an independent firm to closely examine the costs of all aspects of our local government operations to ensure we’re fully informed as we make choices about the future direction of the city’s budget in these challenging economic times,” said Mayor Peter Tucker in a statement Tuesday. “This study is a great starting point for assuring Hermosa Beach’s financial future and maintaining the high quality of public services for which our city is known.”

Public services are divided into two categories:

  1. Services that are community-supported and benefit all residents, such as police and fire protection;
  2. Services that are "personal choice" or benefit an individual, such as dance classes offered in the Clark Building or building permits that are provided to a specific individual or group.

Some figures that the 427-page study found are that false alarms made to the police department cost the city up to $32,822. Building plan checks and inspections cost $1,034,450.

The study also determined that the city is spending $3.6 million more on personal-choice public services than it collects in fees and taxes.

Proposition 13, the California property tax-cutting measure, requires cities to rely on fees to cover the cost of personal-choice public services, the study noted. When fees don’t cover the entire cost of services provided, general fund revenues are then spent.

In the past, when faced with dwindling dollars, the City Council , as well as handed over the production of several city events to private businesses or community groups (this happened with the  and the upcoming , for example.)

Now the City Council will consider continuing to support many public services while also weighing changes to fee structures in an effort to boost revenue. The Revenue and Cost Specialists study was conducted for $28,000, the firm told Patch via e-mail.

“City Council members will be discussing this study in detail with the community to determine what, if any, fees should be changed,” Tucker said.

The council will meet Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in Council Chambers.

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