Burbank Council Seeks to Reduce Spending on Overtime

The Burbank City Council this week adopted a “needs-based” staffing policy that staff members said will reduce unnecessary overtime for municipal workers. Meanwhile, multiple residents questioned council members about the city’s finances.
Management Services Director Betsy McClinton said that the policy, which the council unanimously approved during its virtual meeting Tuesday, will give the city the flexibility to hire more or fewer staff members depending on need, or have more staff in communities that require it. The policy is also expected to help cut down on overtime.
It is unclear how much money would be saved by the new policy, according to McClinton, who added that the city spent nearly $7.2 million from the general fund on overtime in fiscal year 2018-19.
In accordance with California law, the city must meet with its labor groups before the new policy can be implemented, she said during the meeting. Her staff report to the council did not mention which employees might be affected by the policy.
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City OKs Aid for Small Businesses, Renters Hurt by Pandemic

The Burbank City Council approved more than $850,000 in relief money for small businesses and low-income renters impacted by the coronavirus, acknowledging that the funds alone would not be enough to help everyone in need.
The council unanimously authorized the spending during its virtual meeting Tuesday, allocating nearly $440,000 for rental assistance and more than $414,104 to provide forgivable loans for small businesses. The programs are largely funded by Burbank’s portion of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, with unused federal Community Development Block Grant and county Measure H funds also contributing to the initiatives.
The small business assistance program launched with the money will help “microenterprise” entities, such as gig workers, contractors and those who are self-employed, by providing a forgivable loan of up to $5,000. Businesses with between two and 50 employees can receive up to $10,000 in forgivable loans, though they must have at least one low-income employee to be eligible.
The program aims to assist between 30 and 60 businesses, according to Marcos Gonzalez, the city’s housing development manager. When originally proposed, the aid would also have been available to businesses that applied for federal Small Business Administration loans.
However, the council decided to amend the program so that it would cover what was not provided by those loans up to $5,000 or $10,000, as some business owners have reported receiving only a fraction of what they applied for.
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Local Post Office Closes Mailboxes on Sundays After Break-Ins

The La Cañada Flintridge post office is closing access to its lobby mailboxes on Sundays after about 60 P.O. boxes were broken into some weeks ago.
It is not clear what was in the mailboxes, which were broken into twice between April 7 and 9, according to Sgt. Ed Retamoza of the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station. He said that no one has reached out to the station about their stolen mail there, and that detectives currently do not know who committed the crime.
To prevent additional thefts, the post office lobby, which is typically left open on weekends to allow patrons to access mailboxes, will be locked all day on Sundays only. According to its website, post office boxes in the lobby are open 24 hours a day the rest of the week.
Retamoza said there have been no additional incidents reported at the LCF post office, located on Foothill Boulevard, since early April. However, there was another theft at the Montrose post office on April 21, with about 30 mailboxes broken into. Retamoza said law enforcement does not know whether the two incidents are related, or whether government aid checks were being targeted by the thefts.
The investigation is being handled by the United States Postal Inspection Service, which encouraged patrons to report mail theft online at uspis.gov or by calling the service at (877) 876-2455.

Congressman Discusses Potential New Stimulus With Council

Congressman Adam B. Schiff

More federal funds addressing the economic impact of the coronavirus may be on the way, Congressman Adam Schiff said during the City Council’s virtual meeting Tuesday.
Schiff, D-Burbank, joined the meeting to announce the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act, a potential follow-up to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, the coronavirus stimulus package known as the CARES Act. The $3 trillion legislation would give about $500 billion to states and $375 billion to cities for their coronavirus responses, with the largest portion of the latter provision awarded to bigger cities like Burbank.
Councilmembers expressed support for the bill, which additionally provides more money for COVID-19 testing. However, Schiff also said that the federal government has been slow to increase its testing capacity.
“Much of the issue in terms of testing is that the administration got such a late start in prioritizing this. The early test that was rolled out by the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] was a flawed test, and that cost us precious weeks to get a good test out, and even then I think the response has been very slow to ramp up the capacity,” he said.
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Starlight Bowl Concerts, Youth Camps Canceled

Photo courtesy City of Burbank
The Starlight Bowl concert series has been canceled due to COVID-19 health orders.

Several city-run summer outdoor events, including the Starlight Bowl Summer Concert Series and the Tot Summer Daze camp, have been canceled due to the coronavirus.
The cancellations were announced during the Burbank City Council meeting on Tuesday. Marisa Garcia, the city’s Parks and Recreations director, said during the meeting that, while some facilities are tentatively planned to reopen over the summer, certain events would not be resumed.
The canceled events will save the city about $300,000, she noted.
While the Starlight Bowl concerts, including the July 4 celebration, have been canceled, private organizations may be able to rent the venue for their own concerts between August and October, depending on COVID-19 health orders from Los Angeles County officials.
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City Council Projects Steep Revenue Loss on Pandemic Recession

Burbank City Councilmembers discuss a potential new coronavirus relief package with Congressman Adam Schiff, who briefly joined their virtual meeting Tuesday to answer questions about the $3 trillion bill.

The Burbank City Council approved a tentative budget this week that estimates a revenue loss of $15-$20 million during the next fiscal year of 2020-21 due to economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
The council heard eight different budget presentations on Tuesday during a virtual meeting that lasted nearly six hours, creeping past midnight. Though city officials emphasized that the extent of the COVID-19 pandemic’s financial impact on Burbank remains uncertain, they expressed confidence that the city’s prudent fiscal policies over the past several years have put it in a good position to withstand economic challenges.
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Council Crafts Outdoor Facilities Reopening Amid Social Distancing

The Burbank City Council confirmed the extension of social distancing rules to match those of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and reviewed possible reopening dates for outdoor areas during its virtual meeting on Tuesday.
The confirmation of the social distancing order, first issued by City Manager Justin Hess on April 23, will mirror L.A. County’s extension of its “Safer at Home” order to the same day, which also keeps Burbank eligible for potential state and federal reimbursement and aid for costs brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
After Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the state’s transition into Stage 2 of reopening procedures on May 4, L.A. County and Burbank began allowing certain retail businesses to reopen for curbside pickup. In a staff report on Tuesday, Fire Chief Eric Garcia emphasized that though Burbank is working on its own set of initiatives to further reopen, the city will not go beyond the county’s guidelines.
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