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The City of San Fernando's Red Ink Comes Home to Roost PDF Print E-mail
Written by Alex Garcia   
Thursday, 21 June 2012 05:01

The City of San Fernando is dangerously in the red and facing a very serious shortfall as outlined in a draft fiscal 2012-2013 budget report that shows an $869,000 deficit. It was announced during Monday's council meeting July 18, the city expects revenues to be around $16.9 million in the general fund, while expenditures will rise to $17.7 million.

The city also faces shortfalls in the water and sewer operating systems, which will reflect in an estimated $2.3 million overall budget deficit ($34.8 million in revenue as opposed to $36.9 million total budget).

The Council will adopt a final budget proposal on July 2. But, how the city will meet such a large shortfall has been a question on the lips of nervous city employees for months.

Former Mayor Mario Hernandez had previously maintained that the city had a balanced budget while as one city insider recently described, "Peter was being used to pay Paul. On paper, it was smoke and mirrors. I think people are going to find out pretty soon just how bad things really are."

There have been recent closed door city hall meetings to discuss making the hard decisions about employee layoffs but there is no indication what positions would be eliminated or how many employees would be let go. The council majority has been criticized by members of the community for being consumed by their own scandalous affairs and poor decisions they believe led to lawsuits and unexpected city payouts and expenditures. Members of the recall committee have been outspoken in their criticism of the council majority for failing to pay attention to the city's financial health. They've turned in more than the required number of signatures on a recall petition to remove Mayor Brenda Esqueda, City council members Mario Hernandez and Maribel De La Torre. Residents signatures are expected to be verified by the L.A. County Registrar Recorder's office by July 2 and a date to hold a recall election is to be scheduled thereafter.

Fourth of July

During the meeting, the City Council also sought to put an end to rumors they said were floating around the city and announced the annual fireworks show will go on this year as it has in the past.

Recreation and Community Services Operations Manager Ismael Aguila said the City has received around $13,000 to put on the show and said that Crown Disposal, the city's current contracted trash company will provide the remaining funds the city can't pay. The show costs are estimated to be approximately $25,000. The appropriateness of accepting the money from Crown Disposal raised a few eyebrows as the city is currently accepting RFP -requests for proposals from various trash companies including Crown Disposal. Members of the city council have been meeting and accepting company dinner invitations from those interested in securing the city's trash contract.

New fees for swimming at San Fernando pool

The city's aquatic center has been the center of controversy since its construction because of construction overruns and the city's inability to maintain its cost. The pool was initially funded and constructed as a year round aquatic center but the city, unable to support its cost, in the first year turned the costly facility into a seasonal pool. Also announced at the council meeting, beginning in July, the city will implement a new fee structure for use of the San Fernando Pool.

Recreation swimming will now cost $2 for children and adults (previously, only adults were charged $2). Recreation swimming will be implemented on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. And from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday through Friday.

At the same time, the cost of swimming lessons will be reduced. Lessons that run for six weeks have been lowered from $50 to $40 for city residents and from $60 to $45 for non residents.

Aguila said the fee reductions are more in line with fees charged at nearby facilities in the City and County of Los Angeles.

The lower swim lesson fees will create a $10,000 loss in city revenues that will be offset by about $1,000 in weekly revenues that are estimated will be generated by increasing the admission fee for recreation swimming during the nine weeks the pool will be open to the general public, as well as sales at the pool's concession stands.

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