Ryan Hagen, Staff Writer
Posted: 06/25/2013 08:46:25 PM PDT
GRAND TERRACE — Residents applauded Tuesday after the approval of a budget that includes a contingency cutting city parks, senior center and law enforcement, an unusual occurrence that showed the audience’s understanding that it actually meant a step away from those steep cuts.
With every seat in the City Council chambers full and then some, the city unanimously passed the budget and declared a fiscal emergency.
That will allow residents to vote on a new $1.5 million utility user tax, which if passed would cancel most of those cuts.
Every council member has said they don’t want to see the cuts in the budget that they passed Tuesday, to applause.
Most of the plan’s cuts would automatically go into effect only if residents don’t vote in November to add a new tax, which requires a unanimous vote to declare a fiscal emergency.
Councilwoman Darcy McNaboe, the one council member who had opposed earlier plans because she said she couldn’t support a fiscal emergency until there was a budget that ended without a deficit, was the one to propose the vote.
“I don’t think I’ve ever heard you guys applaud us,” she said. “You’ll get your choice.”
The city faces a budget deficit of $760,513, and so city staff say they must cut one deputy from the 6.8 currently patrolling beginning July 1. Additional cuts – including the closure of both major parks, another deputy position and funding that the senior center says is needed for it to stay open – would go into effect Dec. 1 or Jan. 1.
A utility user tax to raise $1.5 million a year “” which Mayor Walt Stanckiewitz has estimated would mean about $25 or $30 per household “” would cancel those cuts and still mean a balanced budget.
Some of the 26 protesters who marched with signs to the meeting said they weren’t familiar with the budget situation and were opposed to both the proposed cuts and the potential tax.
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