Sandra Emerson, Staff Writer
Created: 08/27/2010 06:26:52 PM PDT

UPLAND – City officials said they will have to make additional cuts to the city’s 2010-11 budget due to a prolonged economic recovery period and substantial legal fees.

The Finance Department will recommend between $1.8 million to $2 million in cuts to the City Council in October.

“We hoped to see some return and a little better sales tax position,” City Manager Robb Quincey said. “The recovery is longer. Actually, longer than what we had expected.”

General Fund expenditures for fiscal 2011 were expected to be $37.9 million, which equals the revenues the city expected to take in.

Stagnant tax revenues, a slow economic recovery and legal fees are to blame for the additional cuts, Quincey said.

The city adopted a balanced budget in June and is in the process of closing the books for fiscal 2010.

Since fiscal 2009, the city has had to make $4.1 million in cuts.

“This is our fifth or sixth cut or reduction in the budget,” Quincey said. “We started early and made incremental adjustments all along.”

City officials are reviewing several ways to make the cuts, but employees are always the last resort, Mayor John Pomierski said.

“That’s always the last bastion, but we’re going to be looking at probably street sweeping being cut from twice a month to once, cut back in tree trimming, probably have to cut back on fixing sidewalks and streets,” he said.

Typically, the Finance Department in February provides the council with a midyear budget update, but the economy has forced city officials to start reviewing the budget more frequently.

“We’re not in a standard mode of midyear budget review, and the end-of-year review and next year review you do historically every six months,” Pomierski said. “The barometer and the way that the pendulum is swinging is we need to pay a lot more attention and a lot quicker intervention so we keep our hands on the pulse of what’s going on here.”

Upland has spent more than $2 million on lawsuits involving San Bernardino County and between $150,000 and $200,000 fighting three medical marijuana cooperatives, Quincey said.

The county is suing Upland, Caltrans and San Bernardino Associated Governments to recoup part of a $102 million settlement with a Rancho Cucamonga developer.

County District Attorney Michael Ramos and Attorney General Jerry Brown are investigating the settlement that the county made with Colonies Partners LP.

“Unfortunately, we have a county supervisor that’s not representing his constituents and got us dragged into the muck and mire on this frivolous lawsuit that we spent over $3 million on,” Pomierski said about Supervisor Paul Biane.

“That’s money that could have gone to fix more streets, do more capital improvement projects or just staying in our General Fund account to pay for other things that we need to pay for.”

Kevin Dorse, an attorney for the county and the flood control district, said the center piece of the lawsuit is a drain project in Upland that provided the city with several benefits.

“As an Upland project, this was Upland’s responsibility, and we’re unfortunately involved in litigation that can be expensive,” Dorse said.

“But until the issue of that responsibility is resolved either through settlement or mediation or trial, all of which the county is open to, the county going to continue to request that Upland take responsibility for the consequences of its drain project.”

Upland is attempting to permanently close at least three medical marijuana cooperatives in the city. The city passed a zoning ordinance a few years ago that prohibits medical marijuana cooperatives from operating within city limits.

G3 Holistic, Upland Herbal Patient Co-op and Old World Solutions were forced to close earlier this month due to a preliminary injunction granted to the city by a West Valley Superior Court judge.

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