City Council approves $37.8 million budget

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Some question whether the amount of money spent on road maintenance is sufficient. More than $90,000 is slated for the new media information officer’s position, which includes benefits.

By Knowles Adkisson / The Malibu Times

The Malibu City Council Monday night approved an overall city budget of $37.8 million for the fiscal year 2011-12 with relatively little discussion, but some questioned whether enough funding was directed toward street maintenance.

Ryan Embree, speaking on behalf of the Malibu Township Council, questioned whether the $300,000 allocated for road overlay, or repaving, was enough. Embree said the city had allocated more money in the past for overlay, but questioned why only $10,000 was spent on repaving in 2010-11.

“Many of the roads, as we know, in Malibu are deteriorating, because there hasn’t been historical maintenance of the overlay program,” Embree said.

Embree said the City of Calabasas spends approximately four times the amount Malibu does on resurfacing and overlay, despite having roughly the same length of roads.

Mayor Pro Tem Laura Rosenthal said she thought “our city is very different from Calabasas. Ninety percent of the people who travel here travel on PCH and not necessarily in our neighborhoods and on those streets.”

Caltrans is responsible for the maintenance of Pacific Coast Highway.

Rosenthal asked City Manager Jim Thorsen if the city had received many complaints from residents about deteriorating roads. Thorsen responded that the only complaints he was aware of were from people on Malibu Road. Thorsen said Public Works Director Bob Brager has been working with the Malibu Road Association on a potential paving project there.

Thorsen said he expected the Public Works Department to bring a pavement management program before the city council later this year. The program would identify priorities and recommend funding for particular roads, which would be implemented in the next fiscal year of 2012-13. Thorsen said he thought the $300,000 currently budgeted for 2011-12 for street overlay was sufficient.

Other highlights of the new budget include $94,000 allocated for the city’s new media information officer position. That figure includes salary and benefits for the new position, as well as an expansion of the city’s media outreach efforts. Former assistant editor of The Malibu Times, Olivia Damavandi, was named to the position earlier this month.

The city’s general grant program is budgeted at $100,000 for 22 programs or recipients. However, funding for two of the recipients is conditional.

A $30,000 grant to the Malibu Community Labor Exchange is contingent upon the appointment of a new director of the exchange and a fundraiser being planned for it.

A local biodiesel fuel program that would convert vegetable oil for use by owners of biodiesel vehicles, which is headed by Malibu resident Ben Dossett, was granted $5,000, but is contingent upon the program finding a processing site, proof of permits and insurance by June 30, 2012.

The city also allocated $45,000 for expenses related to the upcoming city elections. The contract with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will increase by $100,000 to $6.3 million. The increase is due to personnel and administrative-related costs adopted by the county and does not reflect an increase in services. The Parks and Recreation Department budget is down $54,000 due in part to the planned closure of Papa Jack’s Skate Park in October. A new site for the park has not yet been confirmed, although the parking lot of Bluff’s Park has been discussed as a temporary site for the skate park.

The council also approved a new initiative that rewards local businesses that support Malibu youth, called the “Youth Appreciates You Business Initiative Program.” Businesses would qualify for recognition by contributing products, advice, employee time or jobs to youth. The awards will be announced in November by the Harry Barovsky Memorial Youth Commission. Accepted businesses will receive a decal for their storefront and recognition on the city Web site and newsletter.