On Tuesday April 26th, Burbank City Council held a regularly scheduled meeting. The main topic of discussion during the meeting was the proposed 2022-2023 citywide budget.
Prior to talking about the budget, the council went over and quickly approved the meeting’s consent calendar. The consent calendar is a grouping of agenda items that are voted on at once. This meeting’s consent calendar included the approval of Burbank Police Department’s military equipment funding policy, which was the sole item in the calendar that wasn’t supported unanimously (Vice Mayor Konstantine Anthony voted in dissent).
Following the passage of the consent calendar, the council moved straight to the budget. City Manager Justin Hess gave a presentation regarding the state of the budget.
“The city’s revenues are recovering at a good rate, with most budget categories remarkably at or above pre-pandemic levels,” said Hess. Due to the recovery of pre-pandemic city revenue levels, the city is able to meet a balanced budget.
Although the city has come out of the pandemic in good shape, the current issues of inflation, supply-chain disruption and the on-going Russian invasion of Ukraine pose challenges to Burbank’s fiscal stability.
Council was then given various presentations about different aspects of the budget. Perhaps the most pertinent of these presentations was Burbank Water & Power’s (BWP).
Due to a number of factors, including current inflation and the future effects of climate change, BWP is requesting an increase in electric and water rates for customers. The rate increase would include a six percent increase in electric rates and a nine percent increase in water rates.
Although BWP would like to see a rate increase, they are also proposing new saving’s programs that they claim may offset the costs on customers. Previously, the income threshold to qualify for BWP’s saving’s programs was $60,000. With the proposed budget, the threshold would be raised to $92,000, allowing many more households to take advantage of the offered programs.
Council widely acknowledged these rate changes as necessary. However, Mayor Jess Talamantes voiced his support for alternative methods of paying the cost that rate increases would cover.
“[BWP rates] can be lowered,” said Mayor Talamantes. “I encourage staff to seek grant money.”
The citywide budget will continue to be discussed at the next few meetings, culminating in it’s adoption in late May.
A video recording of this meeting and it’s attached agenda can be found here.