First published in the June 16 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
After three public hearings last week, the La Cañada Flintridge City Council approved its preliminary budget plan for the 2022-23 fiscal year that will help fund capital projects and several community groups for the next 12 months.
The city estimates an additional $870,700 to its general fund next year despite rising costs and numerous projects already accounted for in the budget — such as the $46,000 cost to repair the dip in the 1700 block of Foothill Boulevard caused by a burst underground water pipe that occurred three years ago.
LCF’s biggest source of revenue, per usual, will come from property taxes and the city expects to collect nearly $6.4 million by next year. The next highest is sales tax with $3,161,675, followed by payments in lieu of property taxes (nearly $3 million) and fees for building permits and plan checks ($2,575,250).
In his report, City Manager Mark Alexander said that although the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic seem to be easing, the city should “continue its conservative approach toward budgeting revenues and expenditures.
“We need to remain vigilant and be prepared for the continuing or unanticipated lingering impacts of the pandemic,” he wrote in the budget introduction. “Additionally, the current national economic state of affairs does raise concerns over the possibility of a looming recession.”
Fortunately for LCF, the city will soon be receiving the second half of funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, signed by President Joe Biden in March 2021, which gives the municipality nearly $4.8 million of unrestricted funds that must be obligated by December 2024 and spent by 2026.
The additional money gave the city council some flexibility and managed to fully fund the requests from most community groups — such as the LCF Tournament of Roses Association and the local chamber of commerce — by shifting resources and putting some projects on hold.
The city is looking to spend most of the ARPA money on public works. A subcommittee that included city council members and staff recommended that the council allocate the federal funds to the development of a citywide asset management plan that will evaluate the inventory of existing assets in the city and recommend maintenance and replacements and document needed additions that would meet the needs of LCF residents. The panel estimates the cost to total $1.85 million.
The subcommittee also suggested that the council approve a $1.5-million sewer study for the area south of Foothill Boulevard that would increase the city’s chances of receiving funding from the state.
In addition, ARPA will allow the city to spend $1 million to renovate the Community Center of La Cañada Flintridge and make it compliant with the American with Disabilities Act.
Community members concerned about the environment were pleased to see the city’s Climate Action Plan included in the budget. The council elected to allocate $200,000 toward implementing the plan using the federal funds and will dip into the general fund to hire a consultant who would help the city achieve its goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions.
The council also approved that $176,575 of the AFPA money be used to retrofit LED lighting at recreational fields and tennis courts.
City staff is also looking into hiring a consultant who would assist them in televising and streaming meetings outside of City Hall.
Pickleball Not Guaranteed
Even during a city budget meeting, pickleball was briefly discussed by city officials, with Councilman Mike Davitt asking for clarification on the process of possibly converting a portion of Mayor’s Discovery Park into a pickleball site.
City staff budgeted $75,000 for the project that would add at least two pickleball courts to the park, but Arabo Parseghian, LCF’s city division manager, said it does not necessarily mean they would be constructed.
Parseghian said that a sound engineer has been hired to perform a sound study in the area using existing sound and monitoring the decibels at Mayors’ Discovery Park.
The findings from the study will then be presented to the council in a future meeting before moving forward with designs for the courts.