By Brittany Hanson/Garden Grove Journal
An increase in the Stanton utility user fee will be put to a public vote on June 5.
The increase of 2.5 percent is meant to increase revenue by around $1 million annually to the city in order to pay specifically for fire and police services, contracted through the County of Orange.
Some citizens are not happy about the prospect of the fee increase and don’t feel the city has explored enough options to warrant the action. They spoke up at Thursday’s special meeting of the city council, when the city leaders voted to put the item on the ballot.
“As a taxpayer, I don’t want to shoulder this . . . I think you’re taking the easy way out without making really hard cuts,” said Sharlene Nickell, Stanton resident.
Local business owner Michael Woolbright said that for him, the operating costs are high because he has to have the lights on and everything running for his business.
“This is stuff that directly affects my company,” said Woolbright. “Did we look at other alternatives?”
The fire and police fees account for 75 percent of annual expenditures in the city and cost this million $12 million out a of $16 million budget.
Over the course of five years statewide financial hardships and the loss of city revenue have cost Stanton a lot.
Staff reductions, pay freezes and reductions, the closing of the police center’s front desk and the reduction of serving police officers have yet to make a dent in the growing revenue and expenditure disparity.
The loss of redevelopment funds as well have dissolved many options that the city had to keep up with maintenance.
Part of the vote on Thursday was to declare a state of fiscal emergency in the city.
“No one wants to do this. We have cut every thing we can find to cut,” said Mayor Carol Warren, “we have begged for money in every way that we can. You think the state is hard on? Take a look at what it has done to cities. They have decimated them.”
Council member Al Ethans said that the city council members pay out of pocket for many things and there is no such thing as an expense account in Stanton.
“I’m retired and this [fee increase] isn’t going to be easy on me,” said Ethans.
Terri Marsh, director of administrative services, said, to put things in perspective, that if there was $50 electric bill that the 2.5 percent increase would add on $1.25 per month.