City Taps Reserves for New Project Tracking System

The La Cañada Flintridge City Council elected at its annual budget meetings this week to dip into the city’s reserves and withdraw $492,200 to cover all of the capital projects and community contributions it deemed necessary in the coming year.
“That’s what reserves are for,” City Councilman Dave Spence said Tuesday.
The city still will have reserves of $16,551,800, according to Dan Jordan, the city’s director of finance. The city also expects an anticipated decrease in sales tax revenue in the coming year to be just a “blip,” as Mayor Jonathan Curtis put it, that will be remedied when a new tenant moves into the Sport Chalet building.
Also, the city expects that in five years it will recover the $270,000 that it budgeted for new land management software, a project tracker program that will streamline and integrate development projects in LCF.
The new system will allow all of the city’s departments to collaborate while creating permit processing flow charts for better tracking. Furthermore, it will create a way for applicants to receive project status updates regularly and provide applicants with a portal to communicate with staff, submit plans and check permit status.
Arabo Parseghian, senior management analyst, predicted that the ease of handling permitting process business will lead to more applications being processed. Also, he said, the new streamlined features will justify an increase in permitting fees in order to recuperate some of its installation costs.
City staff was in good spirits after receiving the OK from the council to fund the program, which Curtis said “allows staff to do what they’re best at, rather than the tedious work because we don’t have the software.”
All of the plans currently on record will have to be scanned into digital form, at the city’s expense, Parseghian said. He estimated that 90% of the city’s current copies are in paper form.
“It’s going to save a lot of time,” said Edward Hitti, director of public works, who added that the city currently pays to store all of those files. “We can minimize that storage when you have it electronically, and it will improve our working space area.”
The city also opted to fund $330,150 of the $358,650 requested by community groups.
The Lanterman Historical Museum Foundation will receive $104,750 from the city and the Chamber of Commerce and Community Association will get $100,000.
The council will dedicate $45,000 to the Community Center of La Cañada Flintridge. Maureen Bond, the center’s director, indicated that the money would go, in large part, toward painting the preschool. City Councilwoman Terry Walker agreed to provide the funds, but she wondered first if it might be better for the city to help the center more quickly become compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act.
The YMCA of the Foothills will receive $20,000 to help fund a mobile robotics lab, the LCF Tournament of Roses Association will receive the $19,175 it requested and the LCF Sister Cities Association will get $14,225 to help cover one-time startup costs.
The council also decided not to give the La Cañada Kiwanis Foundation the $2,500 it requested for the design and installation of a drip irrigation system at a drought-tolerant demonstration garden in Winery Canyon Park. Instead of donating the money, the city will conduct the work itself in order to take ownership of its maintenance.
Other community recipients include La Cañada Beautiful ($10,000), Descanso Gardens Guild ($10,000), the La Cañada High School Music Parents Association ($5,000) and the One City, One Book program ($2,000).
The City Council also reviewed capital improvement project funding that will include $229,400 of Measure R money that will go toward the next phase of sound wall construction.
The city also will use MTA funds to purchase a new, $343,500 shuttle bus to replace the city’s original bus, which stopped running several months ago.

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