PALMDALE — The City Council on Tuesday approved nearly $2.9 million in additional expenses for a variety of projects as a mid-year budget adjustment.
The additional expenses are for “things that have come up during this fiscal year that we think are important enough that we can’t wait until next budget year to fund,” City Manager James Purtee said during a briefing Monday.
The 2018-2019 fiscal year ends June 30.
The largest item among the changes is $943,290 to pay for the continuing streetlight inspections and repairs. This work, to inspect all 18,000 lights the city recently acquired from Southern California Edison and replaced with LEDs, was brought on by the discovering of faulty wiring in a portion of the lights.
Since late January, the city has warned people to stay away from the lights during rain storms, until all the lights are inspected and the faulty wiring fixed. There have been no reports of injuries or other complaints, officials said.
An additional team was brought in under contract to inspect all the lights, with the city’s own workers fixing those that are found to have problems. Officials expect the process to be complete in a few weeks.
Another big-ticket item is the purchase of a new street lane striping machine for the Public Works Department for $525,000, to replace the department’s existing machine that is no longer road worthy, Purtee said.
The funding for this purchase comes out of highway use tax revenues, he said.
Another large adjustment is the $500,000 requested to aid the effort to return Palmdale’s airport adjacent Air Force Plant 42 to service. This includes a supplemental environmental impact report, site design, legal and consulting services and training. All of these funds may not be needed this fiscal year, but it will be available, just in case, Mayor Pro Tem Austin Bishop said.
The adjustments include nearly $500,000 from the parks development fund to begin community engagement and design on three parks: Yellen, Rancho Vista and Arnie Quinones. This is the first portion of the $5 million the Council voted to dedicate to jumpstarting park developments, Purtee said.
Also included in the total is $25,000 for community sponsorships, an item that remained in the budget but had not been allocated funds for several years, Purtee said.
Council members had requested the item be funded again in order for the city to be able to assist community organizations. In approving the adjustments, the Council also approved designating the funds this time for the Palmdale Sheriff’s Boosters.
This matches the city of Lancaster’s contribution to their boosters, Councilman Richard Loa said.
“We are collaborating with both booster clubs … unifying our efforts to assist the Sheriff’s Department in items that are not funded through the budget of Los Angeles County,” he said.
“I look at it as leveraging some funds,” Mayor Steve Hofbauer said. “This merely tells our deputies that we’re going to step up.”
“It sends a message out to the community and the businesses asking them to step up as well,” he said.
Councilwoman Laura Bettencourt recused herself from the vote, as she is a Sheriff’s department employee.
The adjustments, with the community sponsorship designation, passed on a 3-0 vote, with Councilman Juan Carrillo absent.
Of the total $2,893,260 in additional expenses, $634,670 will be paid from the city’s General Fund, with the remainder coming from the gas tax, park development and streetlight districts funds, according to the staff report.
With these adjustments, the General Fund reserve is expected to decrease from $20.1 million to $19.4 million, or to 21.7% of operating expenses from 22.5%.
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