Grand Terrace

Ryan Hagen, Staff Writer
Posted: 06/21/2013 08:37:44 PM PDT

GRAND TERRACE — With “draconian” cuts and the specter of possibly disincorporating as a city looming, the City Council will meet Tuesday to make some tough choices.

Deep cuts now, or deeper cuts later.

Let the residents decide whether preserving already-minimal service levels is worth a new tax, or pass a balanced budget that would mean the closure of parks and the city’s senior center as well as cutting two sheriff’s deputies.

The dilemmas confront a city that, by all accounts, has limped along since the statewide elimination of redevelopment agencies — a tool the city had relied on even more than most until the Legislature cut it to balance the state budget — became effective in February 2012.

It’s a city that was considered a risky venture when it incorporated in 1978 because it had so little revenue available, as the council was recently reminded by the head of the agency that would be responsible for overseeing the potential process of going from a city to unincorporated land — a process California hasn’t seen since the early 1970s — but Grand Terrace needs to consider, said Kathleen Rollings-McDonald, executive director of the Local Agency Formation Commission of San Bernardino County.

And perhaps nothing has changed, said Ken Henderson, who led a 12-person committee tasked with recommending some path to viability for the city.

So add more revenue — a $1.5 million utility user tax — the committee recommended in an 11-1 vote.

“There’s one area where there was absolute unanimity,” Henderson, the former town manager of Apple Valley, said. “We wished to remain an incorporated community. That was a unanimous vote, all the committee members were there, and it was made in the strongest possible terms.”

In a 13,000-person city with few businesses that in the last two years has cut more than half of a work force that started at 29 full-time equivalents, officials and residents who’ve studied the budget agree that can only be done through some sort of tax.

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