Tuesday morning report, June 28

Five things to know this Tuesday morning: 

1.) The Press-Telegram profiles Don Knabe, who is termed out of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors later this year. 

“The thing I’ll probably miss most is being able to pick up the phone and help somebody and make a difference,” he said. “That’s the essence of this job. It’s been an incredible ride. It’s probably the best political job in America.”


2.) City Council members tonight will decide whether to put a proposed half-cent sales tax hike on November's general election ballot. 

If approved by voters, the tax increase would generate about $9 million annually, which would be spent on public safety, park improvements, and street repairs, city officials said. 

The increased sales tax would expire in 2037, and funds would be monitored by an independent citizens oversight committee. 

In February, the city council hired the consulting firm of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates, the same agency that helped Downey Unified pass its $248 million bond in 2014. 


3.) Council members are expected to approve a balanced $156.7 million fiscal budget tonight. 

Downey's "diversified tax base and geographical location have led to a strong recovery from the most recent economic downturn," finance director Anil Gandhy wrote in a report to the City Council, adding that property tax revenue increased 3.7% from last year, while income from sales tax jumped 5.8%. 

However, Gandhy warned that the city still has "significant unfunded needs for the infrastructure and services the Downey residents are used to." 

The proposed budget included a $500,000 appropriation from city reserves for license plate readers and $450,000 for various park projects. 


4.) A labor deal has been reached between the City of Downey and the Downey Fire Management Association, which represents the assistant fire chief and battalion chiefs.

The agreement, which still needs to be approved by the City Council, includes 3% across the board salary raises. There are also increases to other incentives and merit pay: 

•1% increase to education incentive pay (5% for associate's degree or California State Fire Officer Certificate with 15 units or related coursework, and 8.5% for bachelor's degree or California State Chief Fire Officer of equivalent; 

•Addition of longevity pay provision: 10 years at 5.5% and 20 years at 8.402%; 

•Increase in medical opt-out rates (in lieu of city-paid medical coverage) from $150 to $300 per month for employee-only coverage, and from $500 to $650 per month for employee plus two or more dependents; 

•Increase in bilingual pay from $46.15 to $70 biweekly; 

•Increase in sick leave conversion maximum for deposit into the city's retirement health savings plan at retirement or death from 2,363 to 2,850 hours for 56-hour employees and from 1,575 to 1,900 hours for 40-hour employees.


5.) The city is raising fees on various services -- mostly in public works -- to better match their actual cost of service, officials said. 

The increased fees are expected to generate an additional $25,000 annually. 

As part of the fee schedule, the Columbia Memorial Space Center is offering Downey-based civic clubs and youth groups one free use of the space center building or ampitheather per calendar year. 

Staff charges will apply if the event takes place outside the space center's normal operating hours, along with security charges if alcohol is served or attendance exceeds 100 people. 

The space center is also instituting a 20% discount for AAA members.