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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BUSD: Deep Budget Cuts Call for Parent, Political Advocacy

Photo courtesy Ryan Hirsch

The Burbank Unified School District Board of Education issued a call for activism to its community members after revealing financial cuts totaling more than $13 million to local schools with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s current state budget proposal.
“We are going to be facing a substantial reduction and need to be realistic about that right now and make sure our parents and constituents understand that,” said board Vice President Steve Frintner.
During a special meeting on Tuesday, Assistant Superintendent Debbie Kutka and Director of Fiscal Services Alyssa Low presented to the board how the revisions to the state budget would essentially gut local districts, estimating a total $13.65 million in less LCFF funding for Burbank schools.
“As we start highlighting a menu of options for reductions, it is going to be shocking,” Superintendent Matt Hill said on Tuesday. “We’ve been looking through this. We’re talking about a lot of deep cuts that will completely transform this district in a negative way. That’s why we’re getting the information out there.
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Burbank, Burroughs Seniors in Unique Graduation Week

Photos by Erin Rodick / Burbank Leader

Two days ago, as high school seniors from Burbank and John Burroughs prepared for their virtual online graduation ceremonies, parents festooned the fences of the two schools with signs and decorated their cars with balloons, photos, flowers and streamers. They then chauffeured their member of the class of 2020 around the perimeter of their respective schools to the cheers of family, friends, staff and faculty members.
The events were both joyful, but it was not the way things were supposed to be.
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Burbank Film Festival to Honor Works Made From Home

The Burbank International Film Festival has launched a “Films Made From Home” contest, which is running through June 30. The new category will focus on short content (maximum running time of five minutes) to challenge filmmakers from around the world to get inspired and create fresh, original content from the safety of their homes.
Projects can include any genre or medium including short films, music videos, public service announcements, commercials, etc. Other criteria includes that filmmakers follow current health and safety guidelines and restrictions when doing so.
The top semifinalists will be screened as part of the festival with the finalists and winners announced at the Closing Night Gala & Awards Show. The festival is currently scheduled to take place from Sept. 9-13.

Burbank Student Earns National Merit Scholarship

Anna Tong

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation last week announced this year’s National Merit $2,500 Scholarship winners, who included a Burbank graduating senior among its 2,500 total recipients.
Anna Tong, who will graduate from Burbank High School, plans to study computer science with help from her scholarship, which is being funded by NMSC.
The 2,500 Merit Scholar designees were chosen from a talent pool of more than 15,000 outstanding finalists in the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program. Scholarship winners are the finalists in each state judged to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills and potential for success in rigorous college studies. The number of winners named in each state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the nation’s graduating high school seniors.
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Aid Center Responds to ‘Tsunami’ of Need Amid Crisis

Photos by David Laurell / Burbank Leader
Volunteer Bunny Vitale and Congressman Adam Schiff fill bags with food items during his visit to Burbank Temporary Aid Center.

This past Tuesday afternoon, a maroon-colored compact car pulled up in the parking lot behind the Burbank Temporary Aid Center. Adjusting his mask into place, the casually dressed driver got out and opened the back door, revealing bags and boxes of food items.
Moments later, after unloading his haul into a shopping cart, the man pushed it to the donation receiving area where he was greeted by BTAC Executive Director Barbara Howell; Roger Koll, who serves as the president of the nonprofit organization’s board; and Michael Flood, president and CEO of the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.
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Domenic “Eddie” Saraceno – Obituary

Domenic “Eddie” Saraceno

Domenic “Eddie” Saraceno passed away in Burbank at the age 92 after a brief illness. He was born in Lynn, Massachusetts, in 1928 to Joseph and Rose Saraceno of Sicily.
Dad always recalled his early childhood as exciting, filled with “life’s little lessons.” Along with his pals (“The Brickyard Gang”) they forged lifelong friendships. “Friends to the end!”
Domenic attended Classical High and got his first part-time job working for the Thom McAn shoe company. As his career started to grow, it would soon be interrupted by the Korean conflict.
In 1950, Domenic was drafted into the U.S. Army (17th Infantry). He served with distinction, earning a Bronze Star Medal for valor and heroic achievement. Afterward, he returned to Thom McAn and helped expand the company to California.
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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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Mayor Addresses COVID-19 Pandemic

By Sharon Springer
City of Burbank Mayor

Mayor Sharon Springer

Hello Fellow Burbankers. L.A. County began reopening golf courses and trails along with some retail businesses that are offering curbside pickup. In Burbank, DeBell Golf Course is now open. Stough Canyon was closed this week for a few days of maintenance. Wildwood Canyon and its parking lot are open and will remain open.
While out on trails, please wear facemasks and follow all posted guidelines. Children older than age 2 are also required to wear facemasks at trailheads, in parking lots and destination points. We must continue to practice social distancing and regular hand washing. These are simple things we can do to ensure everyone’s safety and hopefully not have restrictions again in the future. Thank you for being kind. Many are stressed during this difficult time and a kind word or thank you can help.
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