Budget efforts hit with uncertainty
Ryan Hagen, Staff Writer
Posted: 06/22/2011 06:34:25 PM PDT

GRAND TERRACE – After its second budget-specific meeting in as many weeks, the City Council still isn’t sure what cuts it will have to make to pass a balanced budget at its meeting Tuesday evening.

Council members have accepted a framework they think will allow them to close what had been a $553,116 deficit in the General Fund – out of nearly $5 million in yearly spending – by cutting programs and positions.

But the small city’s budget hinges on plans at the state and county level, where city officials have been watching for signs of stability.

“I’m a problem-solver,” said Mayor Walt Stanckiewitz. “If I know what the problem is, I’ll work to find a solution…but this is `it could be this problem, it could be this problem, it could be this problem.”‘

Grand Terrace, which collects very little sales tax revenue, leans heavily on its Redevelopment Agency.

City Manager Betsy Adams has said she doesn’t know another city equally dependent on redevelopment dollars – making Grand Terrace particularly susceptible to plans to eliminate the agencies statewide.

An alternative bill, requiring cities and counties to pay to continue using the agencies, would also leave the city ineligible for $300,000 it otherwise expects.

That loss would go into effect for Fiscal Year 2011-2012 if Gov. Jerry Brown signs the bill by June 30, and the following year if he signs it after that date.

Adding another wrinkle, the city’s contract with the Sheriff’s Department for law enforcement depends on a Community Oriented Policing Services grant that might be cut, and the city’s contract cost will likely increase either 2percent or 6percent, depending on negotiations between the deputies’ union and the county.

The results of the union’s vote on the 2 percent increase are expected by June 30.

Despite such uncertainties like these, Adams modified a consultant’s recommendations and presented eight of them to the council.

In a meeting Tuesday, the council accepted six. Those changes save an estimated $415,288 by:

# Removing a traffic deputy position.

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