Council approves two-year budget


The City Council on Tuesday approved the two-year budget, as expected.

Proposed expenditures total $70 million in fiscal year 2019-20 and roughly $72 million in fiscal year 2020-21.The 20 percent reserve of $13 million remains intact. Changes to the draft approved at the May 22 Budget Workshop included $227,200 in one-time expenditures and ongoing expenditures totaling $221,400. 

One-time approvals included the $12,000 Moulton Meadows Dog Playground pilot program, $10,000 in safety upgrades at the Alternate Sleeping Location, $250,000 for contract services support for employee recruitments and $40,000 for a full time arborist, in addition to ongoing costs of $147,200.

Other approved ongoing expenditures included $74,200 to implement the Cultural Arts Plan and $78,000 of the $156,000 total cost for an Information Technology Project Manager. On the plus side is the $175,000 increase in community development fees to help cover the costs of processing the large projects coming down the pike. 

One-time and ongoing costs associated with wildfire mitigation and fire safety improvements were left blank, awaiting the subcommittee report. 

The council unanimously approved nine of the 10 staff recommendations, split 3-2 only on the ninth recommendation that asked for direction on exceptional performance pay for City Manager John Pietig.

Adopted 5-0

--The 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 budgets, including the changes from the preliminary budget reviewed at the Budget Workshop held on May 22. 

--Approval of Community Assistance Grants from the list submitted by Mayor Pro Tem Steve Dicterow and Councilwoman Sue Kempf as modified at Tuesday’s hearing.

No group or organization gets what it asks for, but Pacific Marine Mammal Center came close: the nonprofit submitted a request for $10,012 and received $10,000.

The Chamber of Commerce received a $10,000 grant as well as $25,000 from the General Fund. Laguna Dance Festival founder Jodie Gates’ plea at Tuesday’s hearing for more financial assistance paid off with an increase of $4,000. The Boys & Girls Club, KX 93.5, Sally’s Fund and the Laguna Beach Community Clinic all got $2,000 more. PUP (Protecting Unwanted Pets), which supports Laguna’s Animal Shelter, asked for $1,000 and got $2,000.

“PUP started in 1979 – this is the first time we’ve ever gotten a grant,” said Ann Marie McKay.      

--Approval of Cultural Arts Grants – the total $220,000 is funded by the Business Improvement District.

--Building and zoning fee modifications, starting July 1

--Approval of the resolution that ratifies employee classifications and salary ranges, excluding firefighters and police officers, which are handled separately.

--Annual Appropriations limit, as mandated by the state

--Salary and bonuses for City Treasurer and City Clerk

--Postponement of proposed $1 million additional payment to the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) until after the Wildfire and Fire Safety Improvements report is presented to council. 

--Retain services of Cassie Walder to assist in the city’s public outreach program

The approved budget will be available for review in the City Clerk’s office, at the Laguna Beach Public Library and on the city’s website at

Editor’s Note: Barbara Diamond will report on the approval of Louis Longi’s artist live-work project in Laguna Canyon, which was approved by a vote of 4-1 on Tuesday night (Council member Toni Iseman dissented), in Tuesday’s edition.