Major budget cuts loom for Burlingame

The worst economic cuts in years could close fire stations, cancel after-school recreational sports and lay off half a dozen workers if the Burlingame City Council approves budget reduction recommendations Monday, city officials said.

City Manager Jim Nantell said Burlingame began reducing its budget in fiscal year 2003-04, but this year’s cuts seem to be worse than others.

“We’ve not had to look at this extensive of an impact ever before,” he said. “We’ve essentially cut a third of the budget in the last seven years.”

The Burlingame City Council will need to decide Monday which cuts to make to bridge the $3.1 million budget gap.

The city operates on a $37 million budget, Nantell said, which has been cut from $42 million just a few years ago.

“It’s more like getting the green light of what is not going to be in next year’s budget,” Nantell said. “Past cuts were relatively invisible to the community. This year is not the case.”

Nantell said discussions about the budget began in January when city officials updated the council about the economic outlook.

At the time, the city was facing a $2.8 million deficit, according to city documents. That number, though, has grown to $3.1 million.

Cuts are being made across the board, according to Nantell, which include as many as six layoffs, the possible closure of one of the city’s three fire stations and a change in street and park maintenances. The City Council is also looking at discontinuing after-school recreational sports programs, he said.

Four of the six positions in jeopardy could be from the Police Department, Nantell said. Another 1.5 positions would be cut from community development.

“That leaves three people in that department,” he said. “So any advanced planning has to come to a grinding halt.”
Nantell said an estimated $900,000 would be saved if a fire station was closed.

“It is the single biggest identifiable item,” he said. “Cuts to police will be a school resource officer or a detective; it’s not as easily seen as a station.”

According to city documents, the projected deficit is a result of a drop in revenue.

Nantell said he has produced roughly $4.5 million worth of cuts in case the economic climate worsens, but most departments are experiencing drastic reductions.

Chopping block

The Burlingame City Council will vote Monday on drastic budget cuts.

$37 million City’s operating budget
$3.1 million Budget deficit
6 Positions subject to layoffs
$900,000 Savings from fire station closure

Source: City of Burlingame

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