City may be short $500K


Shuffling of funds and cuts to certain city services are proposed. City also settles with Trancas PCH, which will go ahead with construction of 32 town homes.

By Jonathan Friedman/Special to the Malibu Times

At last week’s City Council Quarterly meeting, it was revealed that the City of Malibu is not expecting the $500,000 in Vehicle License Fee (VLF) backfill money it usually receives from the state, and will have to make adjustments to the 2003-04 fiscal year budget.

Gov. Gray Davis has proposed keeping that money from California’s municipalities to help offset the significant state deficit.

Also in this budget, general fund money will be needed for the street overlay program, which is a project to reconstruct and maintain Malibu’s worst conditioned streets. The Traffic Safety Fund has been used to finance the program in the past, but it is almost out of money. Administrative Services Director Julia James said $450,000 of general fund money is required.

Due to these factors, city staff has proposed several money shifts and cuts. One is a reduction in the amount set aside for the City Hall reserve from $375,000 to $300,000. Another is that Proposition A money, restricted for transportation related-purposes that the city says it does not need, will be exchanged with other municipalities. The city can get 70 cents on the dollar for that, generating $160,000.

Also, staff proposed cutting the General Fund Grant program by $50,000. Councilmember Joan House said that could possibly be offset by the $165,000 the city will have available next fiscal year for youth services, which was made possible after the elimination of a position in the Sheriff’s Department last year. In addition, the Cable TV franchise consultant and $25,000 worth of professional services from the City Council budget could be eliminated. This would mostly apply to the hiring of consultants. And, support for the Local Coastal Plan (LCP) implementation could be reduced by $101,000.

Some councilmembers also brought up the idea of taking some money from the city’s general fund reserve, which is projected to be at $7.8 million by the end of the fiscal year.

Councilmember Jeff Jennings asked if that is possible. “And if that’s not the case, then what the hell good is the reserve?” he asked.

Lichtig said that is possible, but city staff is cautious. James said taking money out of the reserve is not a good way to have a balanced budget.

Rich Davis of the Malibu 2020 Vision Plan team made a presentation to the council. The plan, which would be a multiyear effort involving the entire community to create a guide for long-range city planning, has been embraced by the council. But there is concern about the cost, which could be as much as $300,000. Mayor Pro Tem Sharon Barovsky pointed out the Malibu team has used the vision plan of cities like Laguna Beach as a model, but one tailored more closely to Malibu could be less expensive and more useful. Jennings suggested the team should also try to seek nonprofit funding for the project.

City settles with Trancas PCH

Also at the meeting, City Attorney Christi Hogin announced that the city had settled with Trancas PCH. The county had given the company approval for 15 single-family homes and 52 condominiums on 35 acres of land in western Malibu prior to cityhood. But when Malibu was incorporated, the area was designated exclusively for single-family homes, with five acres dedicated to each home.

According to the deal, Trancas Canyon PCH can build up to 32 town homes on 8.5 acres, with four of them being low-moderate income housing. The remaining land goes to the city to be used for recreation or open space. The company must still go through the regular planning procedure before construction can begin.