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budget shortfall prompts cuts to local law enforcement


The Carpinteria City Council faced unfriendly pre- liminary budget numbers at its April 11 meeting and, in a 4-1 vote (Councilman Joe Armendariz dissenting), opted to decrease law enforcement services in an effort to par- tially close the nearly $1 million gap between projected revenues and expenditures for fiscal year 2011-2012. “This is not an easy decision for us,” said Councilman Brad Stein, “but due to the budget problems … this is a step we’re going to have to take.” The proposed reductions include cutting the $130,000 community resource officer, eliminating one of two $163,000 detective positions and reducing the amount of patrol shifts to the tune of $153,000. With these reduc- tions, the city’s 2011-2012 budget shortfall would be reduced to about $500,000, an amount that will be cov- ered with reserve funds. Cuts will go into effect in July. “Honestly, (these cuts) are going to hurt. Response

time will be delayed,” said Lt. Kelly Moore in reference to reduced patrol shifts. He added, “Law enforcement is an insurance policy—as long as nothing happens we’re great, but if you have one major event we might not have the resources.” Councilman Armendariz argued that the city should avoid the cuts to law enforcement by dipping deeper into reserves, which are expected to stand at just over $5 mil- lion at the close of the current fiscal year. After extolling the importance of law enforcement to the community, Armendariz said of the reserves, “It’s a rainy day fund and this is a rainy day; it’s pouring.” He pointed out that depressed economic times are when law enforcement is needed most. The rest of the council, however, agreed that the 10.8

percent rise in contract cost for the same Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department services was too much to bear in the current economy. The extra $335,802 required to maintain current service levels would mean that almost half of the city’s budget would be spent on the law en- forcement contract. Councilman Gregg Carty suggested a compromise in

which only the community resource officer and detec- tive positions would be cut, but ultimately the council majority voted to accept the cuts negotiated by the city manager and Sheriff’s offices. The Sheriff’s contract is just one piece of the budget-

ary puzzle. City officials are also struggling to minimize other growing costs that outpace revenue growth. Pro- jecting a slight decrease in sales tax income and only small increases to the transient occupancy tax (bed tax) and property tax revenues, the city expects to have its total income rise by only about $100,000 more in 2011- 2012 than 2010-2011. Meanwhile, anticipated expenses—wages, benefits and contract services—are all on the rise, and the pre- liminary budget factors in the construction of a $70,000 water well to save on water costs in the long term. Pre- liminary projections for the 2011-2012 budget amount to $6.86 million in revenues and $7.3 million in expenses, with the cuts to the Sheriff’s contract included.

BUDGET CUTS continued on page 8 AdAM CAiRA, BRooKS inSTiTuTe of PHoTogRAPHy

Aliso School fifth-grader Erick Espinoza basks in applause after the last note of the first song played by the elementary school band at MusicFest 2011. The annual celebration of musical education allows music students throughout Carpinteria Unified School District to showcase their skills on everything from the trombone to the violin. Held on April 8 at Carpinteria High School, the event featured a range of musical styles as well as instruments. The crowds went wild for the Beatles’ medley performed by the Carpinteria High School band and vocal ensemble, as well as the grand finale, three songs performed by the entire group. For more MusicFest photos turn to page 5.

Sewage rates on the rise


Starting next year, the cost of treating wastewater

might go up for most Carpinteria households and businesses. The Carpinteria Sanitary district will dis- cuss implementing a new rate structure at its April 19 meeting and might begin raising rates starting in the next fiscal year at the end of June. According to district general Manager Craig Murray, rising operating costs are driving the need to increase rates and fees for the first time since 2004. The district contracted Raftelis financial Consul-

tants, inc. to conduct a rates and fees study report after concluding that revenues need to be increased to pay for ongoing maintenance upgrades to the aging sew- age system and to continue to pay down debt incurred from a 1993 bond. Payments on the bond debt are $1.2 million per year, and by law the district must maintain revenues 25 percent over bond payments. The proposed rate adjustment adds $3 to residential

rates starting on July 1 this year and then adds 4.5 per- cent to rates in each of the following four years. As of July 1 this year, rates would rise from $512 to $515 annu- ally for each district residence, and after the incremental hikes for the following four years they would plateau at

$614. Murray said the gradual rate increase will make it “more tenable for customers.” Carpinteria sanitary district’s residential customers pay rates that fall in the mid-range of those charged by surrounding districts. Summerland customers pay $787 annually and Montecito customers pay $1,080 each year. on the opposite end of the spectrum, the City of Ventura charges $284 annually and goleta customers pay $442. A proposed overhaul of the rate structure for busi- nesses will likely lead to more dramatic changes than the residential rate adjustment. According to the rate study report, 40 percent of businesses will see their rates stay the same or go down while 33 percent will have their rates increased by over 40 percent. Proposed increases for businesses are more compli- cated than residential because each business is charged an annual amount based on how much wastewater it generates and how much treatment is required of waste- water. There are currently 99 business rate categories, but the sanitary district proposes slimming down the number of categories to six.

See SEWAGE continued on page 8

And the band played on

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