Downey poised to adopt balanced budget

DOWNEY – The City Council on Tuesday is poised to adopt its third consecutive balanced budget, a spending plan that includes upgrades to Downey parks and adds nine new city jobs, including five combination firefighters and paramedics. Downey’s reserve fund is also projected to swell to nearly $32 million, after the city sold the former Downey Regional Medical Center property to PIH Health for about $9.5 million.

“Things are steadily getting better,” City Manager Gilbert Livas said Tuesday during a budget study session at City Hall. “Not dramatically better, but we’re trending the right direction.”

The proposed budget, which still needs to be ratified by the City Council at its regular meeting Tuesday, projects total revenue of $71.4 million and includes funding for an additional police officer, which will bring the total number of Downey police officers to 111. At its peak before the recession, the department employed 124 sworn officers, said Police Chief Carl Charles.

Also budgeted is the position of executive director of the Columbia Memorial Space Center, which managed to attract 26,000 visitors last year despite lacking a top manager.

The budget includes upgrades to local parks, most notably restoration of the two freshwater lakes at Wilderness Park. The city-owned golf course and banquet center also are in line for new amenities.

Although not budgeted, council members expressed interest in expanding the city’s technological abilities, primarily wireless internet at public facilities. The city has explored adding Wi-Fi in public places in the past, but those efforts stalled due to their associated costs.

Earlier this year, the city installed wireless internet at City Hall and the library but with two-hour time restrictions, and the connections can be unreliable. There is currently no Wi-Fi at the space center, senior and community center, or the Rio Hondo Event Center.

“I’m proud of all the hard work our staff and council has put in to make sure we have a balanced and sound budget without compromising services to our community or public safety,” said Councilman Alex Saab, who served on the budget subcommittee with Councilman Mario Guerra. “I think we’re fortunate to be in this position and the near future looks promising.”

The vote to receive and file the budget was 3-0. Councilman Roger Brossmer had to leave before the vote was taken due to work obligations, while Mayor Pro Tem Luis Marquez was a no-show.

“Being fiscally responsible does pay off,” Guerra said in an interview Tuesday. “We have a balanced budget...and our reserves  are some of the highest in the history of the city.

“This is good stuff.”



Published: June 19, 2014 - Volume 13 - Issue 10