Lead Story News Old - DO NOT USE - The Coast News Rancho Santa Fe Rancho Santa Fe Lead Story

Budgets approved, worries not over

OCEANSIDE — After seven different motions City Council unanimously approved the city’s yearly budget and Capital Improvement Project budget June 23.
The city budget was adopted as presented with no new costs added even after extensive discussion that some of the $1.1 million in “found” funds — which were earmarked but not used to build Fire Station No. 8 — be used to save half a dozen city jobs.
“We can’t split the motion,” Councilman Jerry Kern said. “We worked for months on this to come up with offsets. Stop digging, stop spending money.”
The suggestion to use some of the $1.1 million was nixed and six city workers will be laid off.
Most of the $1.1 million in found funds was already repurposed by council at the June 2 budget workshop to pay the salaries of City Council aides for two years and help support KOCT Community Television for one year.
The Capital Improvement Project, or CIP, budget was voted on separately and approved after further funding for the Melrose Drive extension project was tabled.
Council also adopted the 2010-2015 TransNet Local Street Improvement Program of Projects, which entitles the city to receive a whopping $7.2 million in TransNet funds. These funds are awarded to the city to offset money the city has spent on CIPs. Council voted 3-1 to adopt the TransNet projects, with a no vote
from Councilwoman Esther Sanchez.
The $7.2 million in TransNet funds includes a payment of $25,000 toward the cost of the Melrose
Drive project environmental impact report, or EIR.
While the Melrose Drive project is no longer on the CIP list of funded projects, the project’s EIR results will be brought back to council and council may look into completing the project.
Another hope to ease the tight budget is ongoing negotiations with two city employee group bargaining units, whose contracts are up next June. The hope is that employees will agree to pay a greater percent of their retirement benefits and help reduce city expenses.
“I’m not optimistic this is going to be a joy ride in two to three months, or three years for that matter,” Councilman Jack Feller said.