City Council finalizes budget considerations

CARLSBAD — A large part of the June 21 Carlsbad City Council meeting was dedicated to the budget adoption for the 2011 and 2012 fiscal year.
For some, City Council’s final judgment was bittersweet.
On May 21, Greg Nelson, speaking on behalf of the Boys and Girls Club of Carlsbad, asked the City Council to fund an additional $500,000 toward the completion of their Bressi Ranch project. The additional monies requested were for construction budget shortfalls.
So far, Bressi Ranch has cost $4.5 million — the teen center and gymnasium are completed, but another $1.2 million is needed to finish the main building facility.
“This is the one that I have lost sleep over,” said Councilman Keith Blackburn, referring to the Boys and Girls Club of Carlsbad. “This is a very difficult group to say ‘no’ to, but for $500,000, I could never say ‘yes’ to it.”
And Blackburn wasn’t the only one who agreed.
City Council unanimously agreed to give the Boys and Girls Club $200,000 instead.
“When you look at the Boys and Girls Club and you give them funds it’s because they build futures and help people who need it the most,” Councilwoman Farrah Douglas said. “Hopefully, that ($200,000) will get them started on raising the rest of the money that they need.”
Mayor Pro Tem Ann Kulchin called the $200,000 an investment toward the future of children.
Like the June 7 City Council meeting, gardeners from the city of Carlsbad’s Harold E. Smerdu Community Garden filled the council chamber seats awaiting the final decision on their proposed fee increase. Annual fees pay for plots and water usage. The community garden houses 52 plots.
Previously, Carlsbad residents were faced with an enormous proposed rate hike from $60 to $250 per year. After voicing their objections, attending a citizens budget workshop and meeting with city staff members, residents were able to shrink the proposed $250 annual plot fee to $90 per year.
Nonresident gardeners were not as lucky. Although city staff recalculated a $180 proposed annual fee, City Council rejected it. The original $350 proposed spike remains the same.
“My first preference would be that the community gardens be restricted to our community residents,” Councilman Mark Packard said.
Like the others, Blackburn approved that only one plot should be doled out per family. “I also support the idea that nonresidents pay the full amount and I don’t think our taxpayers should be subsidizing nonresidents,” he said.
During the course of the last couple of weeks, some council members visited the city of Carlsbad Harold E. Smerdu Community Garden. While there, they noticed some plots were unused and unmaintained.
Because of the long waiting list to get into the community gardens, Mayor Matt Hall thought this needed to be addressed. “You don’t use it, you lose it,” he said.
Douglas made the recommendation and all agreed that the new community garden fees would go into effect Jan. 1, 2012.

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