Council Projects Optimism Despite Gloomy Budget Outlook

Photo by Christian Leonard / Burbank Leader
A woman enters municipal headquarters, where the Burbank City Council was reminded this week that the General Fund will be in the red by the end of the 2021-22 fiscal year unless measures are taken.

The Burbank City Council appeared confident this week that the municipality would find ways to address a projected General Fund deficit caused by the pandemic, though it is not yet clear what a budgetary response would look like.
The city does have some time to figure out its next steps; as staff members reminded the council on Tuesday, the recurring General Fund balance is not expected to be in the red until about June 2022, that fiscal year’s end. At that point, recurring expenses are projected to surpass revenues by $4.1 million.
The annual deficit, according to city projections, will then shrink to $1.9 million in fiscal year 2022-23 and $2.8 in 2023-24, before widening again to $4.3 million in 2024-2025.
“Even though the five-year projections show recurring deficits,” Councilman Jess Talamantes said during this week’s meeting, “it’s not 10s and 15s and 20s [of millions].” He added that it was up to city staff members to determine a budgetary course of action.
Councilman Tim Murphy also pointed out that other cities have announced layoffs due to the economic impacts of the coronavirus.

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Local Restaurant Defies Dining Ban

Dozens of patrons sit at the outdoor patio of the Tinhorn Flats Saloon and Grill in Burbank

Baret Lepejian, owner of Tinhorn Flats Saloon & Grill in Burbank, said he loves the city’s Police Department. But the only way he’s closing his restaurant, he added, is if officers drag him away at gunpoint.

Lepejian is no stranger to controversy; his Facebook posts declaring that his business would not enforce face covering requirements for customers earned him condemnation from many local residents and praise from some others in October.

But the restaurateur’s decision to reopen Tinhorn Flats’ patio on Thursday despite a statewide health order banning in-person dining — a defiance not shared by most of Burbank’s businesses — seems to echo some of the growing desperation felt by many eateries’ owners.

“What have I got to lose? If it stays this way, I’m going to lose the restaurant anyway,” Lepejian said. “I would rather go down with the ship than close.

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Konstantine, Schultz Win Council Seats

Nearly a month after Election Day, the final ballot results from Los Angeles County are in: Konstantine Anthony and Nick Schultz are expected to join the Burbank City Council in December.

Anthony soared into first place early in the ballot count process, with 17,529 votes as of Monday, Nov. 30 — when the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk certified the results. Schultz maintained a consistent lead for the second open council seat, with 13,105 voters having cast a ballot for him. The pair will be sworn in to the City Council at a reorganization meeting on Dec. 14.

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City Signals Support for Condemning Past Racism

Mayor Sharon Springer holds a proclamation, issued Tuesday, it denouncing all forms of prejudice and committing Burbank to the pursuit of equality and diversity.

After issuing a proclamation denouncing prejudice, the Burbank City Council indicated its support for a nonprofit organization’s recommendation that the panel formally acknowledge and apologize for racist aspects of the city’s history.
Early in the council’s Tuesday meeting, Mayor Sharon Springer presented a proclamation condemning “all forms of prejudices” and embracing “inclusivity, equality and diversity.” The decree also affirmed Burbank’s commitment to promoting equity and diversity in city programs and services, though it did not announce any new initiatives.
But what could be new, if council members approve, is a formal recognition and apology from Burbank for its previous “sundown town” policies that discouraged people of color, particularly African-Americans, from living in the city.

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Challengers Lead in Council, School Board Races

Anthony Surges, Second City Seat Contested

Days after the election, Konstantine Anthony and Nick Schultz continued late this week to be the front-runners for two seats on the Burbank City Council, though Tamala Takahashi added suspense to the race by hovering in third place.
Anthony’s expected presence on the council would be only the latest development in his complicated relationship with the city: If he clinches victory, the disability services provider will have gone from suing Burbank this year to joining its lead panel in December.
As of the most recent update from Los Angeles County on Thursday evening, Anthony had 15,222 votes, or 20.7% of the total of votes counted, while Schultz had 11,328 votes, or 15.4%. If their leads hold, the two will sit on the council for the next four years.
Takahashi was not far behind, however, nabbing 10,862 votes, or 14.77%, in the Tuesday election in which eight candidates vied.

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Anthony, Schultz Take Early Lead in Burbank City Council Election

With millions of votes counted in Los Angeles County, some local candidates have appeared to take the lead in their races, while a controversial rent regulation measure faces steep opposition so far.

The Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s Office last updated figures at a little before 3 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 13. The office said Tuesday night that there was an estimated 142,715 ballots left to count, not including votes postmarked by Election Day and received through Nov. 20. About 69,500 of the ballots left to count were mail-in ballots, including those deposited in a drop box.

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Council Candidates Report Donations Totaling $191,000

Source: City of Burbank

The eight candidates for Burbank City Council received a total of roughly $191,000 in campaign donations by mid-October, according to final pre-election disclosures.

According to publicly available filing records, donations, during Burbank’s 2017 primary election, which also featured eight council candidates, totaled less than $81,000.

Two council seats will be decided in the election on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Though contributions wound down across the board during the most recent reporting period, from Sept. 20-Oct. 17, real estate broker Paul Herman again raked in the most money — more than $16,600, bringing his total to nearly $52,700. He spent nearly $14,500 during that reporting period, making his total expenditures through Oct. 17 more than $46,600.

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Businesses, Individuals Clash Over Mask Rules

Image courtesy Sebastian Gurdel
A recent video showing a group of demonstrators trying to get inside the Burbank IKEA without wearing face coverings has been viewed nearly 4,000 times. After several members were allowed inside, the group moved on to hold another demonstration at a local Trader Joe’s, which closed during the protest.

Burbank’s recent announcement that face covering requirements would be enforced with fines was an initiative prompted by community outcry. But while many residents applaud the city for its actions, not everyone is pleased.
Operating largely on social media, some members of the Burbank community have argued against the move, or mask rules in general. A now-deleted Facebook post by Burbank eatery Tinhorn Flats Saloon & Grill gained attention from residents and news media for its fiery response to the city’s announcement.
“The Burbank City Council is hiring Mall Cops to enforce this mask mandate because the AMAZING BURBANK PD is refusing to enforce this,” the post read. “WE WILL NOT BOW DOWN TO THREATS & FEARS and WE STAND AGAINST the Burbank City Council and their unconstitutional … act.”

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City Council Votes to Condemn Azerbaijani Aggression

Photo courtesy Armenian National Committee of America Burbank
Advocacy group Burbank for Armenia held a fundraiser to raise money for Armenia on Monday. Attendees included Burbank Unified School District Board President Armond Aghakhanian, Armenian National Committee of America’s Burbank chapter chairman Sarkis Simonian, city Councilman Timothy Murphy and other supporters.

The Burbank City Council voted this week to condemn Azerbaijani aggression in the mostly Armenian region of Artsakh, a disputed area over which Armenian and Azerbaijani forces have clashed.
Artsakh, also known as Nagorno-Karabakh, includes the Hadrut province, with which Burbank declared a friendship in 2014.
Reported violence by Azerbaijani forces in Artsakh has been the focus of widespread protests and rallies recently, with the Armenian flag becoming a not-uncommon sight in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.
The panel’s unanimous vote also directed city staff members to send a letter of support from the council for a potential U.S. House of Representatives resolution, House Resolution 1165, that would condemn Azerbaijan’s military’s actions in Artsakh. The resolution’s authors include Reps. Adam Schiff and Brad Sherman, who represent Burbank.

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City Releases Report on Rent Regulation Measure

Authors of a recently released report on a local rent regulation measure said supporters and opponents of the proposal both could identify portions of the findings that justify their positions.
That was certainly true for the Burbank City Council, whose members insisted Tuesday the report was further evidence that Measure RC, which will be on the ballot in the Nov. 3 election, would hurt Burbank.
The report is available on the city’s website, in the council’s agenda for the Tuesday meeting.

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