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City's budget looking bleak

By Kent Gray

Triplicate staff writer

Budget woes are anticipated in Crescent City's future because of shortfalls in the state's budget, according to Crescent City's city manager, Dave Wells.

"We may be looking at some hard hits," Wells told the Crescent City City Council last night. "The word from the League (of California Cities) is everything is on the table again."

Wells said the city's 2003-2004 budget is in danger of major cuts after Sacramento legislative analyst Elizabeth Hill announced a possible $21 billion deficit in the state's budget last Thursday.

Wells said he was cautiously optimistic about the city's 2002-2003 budget. "We should be in good shape this year unless there is a midyear adjustment" by the state, said Wells.

Councilmember Jack Burlake said the news was particularly troubling since the city and Del Norte County are forced to mutually fund the Local Agency Formation Commission, a commission that is mandated by the state.

Governor Gray Davis said he would hold a meeting this week with the Legislature's top four leaders – the highest ranking Democrat and Republican from each chamber – to discuss the budget.

A new Davis budget is due to be revealed in January. Davis indicated the budget would focus primarily on program cuts before any increase in taxes, according to Davis' spokesperson Anita Gore.

Last year, Davis called an emergency session of the Legislature to enact more than $2 billion in midyear cuts. He then signed a $98.9 billion 2002-2003 budget on Sept. 5 – a record 67 days late – that cut, borrowed and raised revenues to fill a $23.6 billion gap.

The City Council conducted its budget workshop last June and anticipated a $70,000 loss in revenues for 2002-2003.

After the workshop, City Councilmember Mickey Youngblood said he believed the city budget would persevere.

"So long as we focus on the sewer, and I think this budget does that, we're on the right track," Youngblood said. "We need to keep in mind, though, we may be in for a bigger hit than what we're anticipating."


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