City Budget Bolstered by Federal Stimulus

The city of Burbank will receive its first payment from the most recently passed federal stimulus bill this month, officials said, providing a much-needed influx for the municipality.
City staff told City Council members on Tuesday that Burbank is set to receive the first half of its $26 million portion from the American Rescue Plan Act, which was approved in March, by May 10. The payment, which will be followed by a second remittance within a year after it is disbursed, will mitigate much of the pandemic-related revenue losses reported to the city’s General Fund.
As a result, despite previous projections, the fund’s balance is expected to clear the red by the end of next fiscal year.
Longer term, however, officials said they expect that tax revenue will take time to recover, with financial services director Jennifer Becker projecting that the city will likely see a $6.8 million recurring General Fund deficit in fiscal year 2021-2022. The deficit, reflecting the gap between regular city revenues such as taxes and expenses such as department budgets, is then projected to remain at roughly $3.3 million annually for the four fiscal years thereafter.
But without the federal aid Burbank is expected to receive, Becker said, those gaps could be much worse.
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2020 Crime Reports Lowest Since 2014

Though Burbank crime reports continued climbing in the final month of 2020, the year totaled the lowest figure since 2014, according to data from the police department.
Burbank’s total reports for “index crimes” — a selection of seven incident types commonly used by law enforcement to gauge crime rates — were at 2,649 for 2020. That number of index crimes, which include thefts, robberies, aggravated assaults and burglaries, was a 5.6% decrease from 2019’s total.
The 2020 crime report total, according to the Burbank Police Department’s statistics, was Burbank’s third-lowest since 2011; only 2013, which had 2,601 reports, and 2014, which had 2,576, had lower counts.

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Police Commission Approves Recommendations to Council

Photo by Christian Leonard / Burbank Leader
The Police Commission voted on a number of recommendations this week to pass on to the City Council, largely advising that special police programs be kept and given more funding if possible.

The Burbank Police Commission voted this week to advise the City Council that special police initiatives be retained and that new commissioners not be required to be of a certain ethnicity, gender or occupation.
The decisions made on Wednesday came after several monthly meetings in which commission members heard presentations from the Police Department on a variety of topics, including use-of-force policy and the BPD’s Mental Health Evaluation Team program. The council charged the advisory board with discussing potential recommendations after the death of George Floyd sparked nationwide protests and calls for police reform.

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Audit Praises BPD, But Disagrees on Body Cams

Lt. J.J. Puglisi, president of the local police union, explains his stance in favor of allowing officers to view police camera footage before being interviewed at a recent joint City Council-Police Commission meeting.

An external audit of the Burbank Police Department commends many of the force’s policies and reforms, though it also suggests improvements to some of its administrative practices.
One of those suggestions, recommending that the department not allow officers to review body camera footage before being interviewed in use-of-force investigations, was already declined by the department — a point of concern to several residents who called during the Tuesday joint meeting of the City Council and Police Commission.
The Office of Independent Review Group analysis of incidents in 2018 praised the BPD’s reforms over the past several years, highlighting the department’s commitment to investigating whenever racial bias is alleged against its personnel, even if the allegation is not at the root of the complaint.
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