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City cuts services to balance general fund budget

OCEANSIDE — City Council’s OK to cut services did not go over well with residents present as $3.75 million was slashed from the 2011-2012 general fund budget on April 27, in a 3-2 vote in which Mayor Jim Wood and Councilwoman Esther Sanchez voted no.
The cuts will reduce the city’s general fund spending.
“Council majority is ready to get us through these tough times by not spending more than we receive,” Councilman Gary Felien said.
Cuts include eliminating $377,000 in annual subsidy funding for KOCT Community Television. The station will be left to operate on public, education, government, or PEG, franchise fees, grant funds, program underwriting and donations.
The loss of funds means reducing full-time staff from six to three employees and less coverage of local news and events. “It’s an extremely difficult challenge,” Tom Reeser, KOCT executive director, said.
The recreation center’s budget was chopped $235,000. This means shorter hours of operation and reduced work hours for nonexempt staff.
Recreation centers will limit their hours to afternoons and evenings with the exception of preschool programs.
The aquatics program budget was cut $185,000. Cuts mean the closure of the Marshall Street pool, fewer programs at the Brooks Street pool, and eliminating two staff positions.
The library budget was reduced by $116,400. The results are shorter hours at the Civic Center and Mission Branch locations and reduced work hours for nonexempt staff.
A reduction in City Council aides’ work hours will also be considered to balance the budget.
Additional reductions in services and staff work hours were approved in traffic calming, parks and recreation, neighborhood services and mobile home rent control subsidy.
Cost savings were also found in the restructuring of the library and the Finance Department further reduced those department budgets by $240,500 and $300,000, respectively.
There was also restructuring and elimination of staff positions in development services, human resources, property management, parking enforcement, parks maintenance, street and median repair and public works.
City service calls will be consolidated to one call in center saving $160,000 annually.
An anticipated $1 million savings will come when the city renegotiates bargaining units contracts that expire in June and asks employees to pay their full retirement funds.
While cuts were not welcome. more cuts may come next year. “Next year we may have to include public safety,” City Manager Peter Weiss said.
During the same workshop City Council approved a $55.9 million capital improvement budget in a 3-2 vote in which Wood and Sanchez voted no.
The budget includes $2.6 million for design of the Melrose Drive extension, but did not include funds to go forward with building a second access road to the Jefferies Ranch community.