Public Comments re 2010 Burbank City Budget

Dear Burbank City Council and Staff,

Below are my comments re tonight’s Budget Public Hearing FYI.

1. Reduced Single-Day Film Permit Fee – SUPPORT

I’m very pleased to see this, although my original idea was for reduced fees for small productions i.e. 1-3 man crews using under 2,000W total lighting not requiring on-site Police or Fire oversight ,but simply Administrative Approval based on an Online Application (i.e. E-Permit ala L.A. http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_14975843?source=rss ). This would not cause any loss of revenue as most of the permits pulled currently are for larger scale TV/Film Productions. I ask consideration be given to a Free or lower lost option that would cover these type of productions/situations given advancements in safe low-watt lighting technology (LED, HDMI, CFL) i.e. simple interview with 3-point lighting system, small business product/service videos for the web that need minimal lighting etc.

2. Utility Rate Increases – OPPOSSE

I strongly oppose the proposed Utility Rate hikes and consider them excessive given current economic conditions. I am particularly upset about the 13.5% increase in Water Rates and consider this a slap in the face to all of us who have strived to reduce our water usage and as a consequence of that reduction are now being “rewarded” by this massive increase. These hikes will not just adversely affect older residents on fixed incomes but many others who are unemployed, under-employed, or have seen significant downturns in their business due to the recession. The latest CPI numbers show a 2.2% increase for all items and -.2 decrease for energy costs from April 2009-2010 ( http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm ). Any increase above the CPI during these times is unconscionable in my opinion. When faced with similar circumstances recently, The L.A. City Council rejected DWP’s proposed Rate Hikes following a massive Citizen outcry and demanded an audit. Currently DWP is proposing a 4-6% increase in residential Water Rates ( http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/06/l-a-water-rates-could-rise-by-8-this-year-dwp-manager-says.html ). If DWP is asking for only a 4-6% rate increase, how can you justify 13.5%? I strongly urge you to cut in half the proposed Water Rate hike and do everything you can to mitigate future increases.

3. Requested Discussion Item: Swimming Season Partial Extension

It disappoints me that after all the discussions over the last 2 years re extending our swimming season and new swimming pools, this years swimming season has not only not been extended, but decreased compared to previous years. This is a giant step backwards and hardy reflects the Top 5 Goal status these items once had (2008). I realize there are budget constraints, but I ask that you re-consider this and extend the swimming season but at least 1 month until the official end of Summer, say September 19th. Based on last years costs, the cost of this partial extension would be approximately $26,000, which shouldn’t break the bank.

4. Attorney Costs – General Comments

I do not support any additional Tax Payer Funds being spend on outside Legal Counsel to deal with Police Dept. related litigation. Our City Attorney’s Office is more than capable of handling this in-house, and to this end I support one-time funds being allocated to hire additional help. I am concerned that down the road the Council will be asked to allocate more money towards dealing with these matters. I encourage the Council to direct the City Attorney’s Office to seek expedient settlements to minimize fiscal impacts where possible, along with speedy implementation of all of BPD Chief LaChasse’s recommended reforms to ensure this “mess” never happens again. I also believe an independent audit of our City Attorney’s Office would be appropriate at this time.

Thank you for your consideration.

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