- Eastern Group Publications/EGPNews - http://egpnews.com -

Commerce Holds Budget Meetings; Deals With $1.5 Million Deficit

Commerce is holding twice a week meetings this  month to work through a projected $1.5 million shortfall in next year’s budget.

City spokesperson Brian Wolfson says the deficit is the result of “increased costs for health benefits for current employees, pensions, fire and sheriff’s contracts, maintaining city owned facilities and road maintenance.”

While working through its budget last year, officials were already expecting to face another $1 million deficit in the upcoming fiscal year.

This would be the third year in a row Commerce has had to contemplate cuts. Last year the city implemented new user fees for services and made cuts to its Library and Parks and Recreations departments. Employees took a two percent pay cut, and some top officials also docked their own salaries.

The city’s deficit this coming year could come out to be even higher if Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to eliminate redevelopment agencies is passed. The city would face an additional shortfall of $4.184 million that would be “devastating to the community,” according to Finance Director Vilko Domic.

The city of Commerce officially opposes Brown’s proposal and has contributed to a legal defense fund to fight the loss of local redevelopment funds. Cities are able to retain control over more local property taxes through setting up redevelopment zones where the purpose of those funds is to go toward eliminating blight.

In Commerce, redevelopment agency funds have been used to bring about major projects such as the Citadel Retail Outlets and the Vista Del Rio Housing Development.

During a public meeting on Monday, the city council received presentations from the Community Services and Public Safety divisions. The city’s contract with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and the Los Angeles County Fire Department were also discussed.

On Tuesday, staff gave presentations on the Finance, Administration, Public Information Office, Human Resources and City Clerk’s Office.

Next Monday and Wednesday, meetings scheduled from 3:30 pm to 6:30 pm will focus on the Library and Parks & Recreation departments. Meetings on May 24 and June 8 will focus on Community Development, Transportation, Redevelopment and Capital Improvement Projects.