By Jim Tortolano
Balking at a proposed budget that calls for taking $8.7 million from reserves to be balanced, the Westminster City Council decided Wednesday night to push a decision back to its next meeting on Aug. 10.
Mayor Tri Ta and council members Margie Rice and Sergio Contreras voted to wait two weeks on the budget, with Diana Carey voting no and Tyler Diep abstaining.
The decision followed a report on a “status quo” budget proposal for 2016-17 with $94.9 million in general fund income and $103.6 million in expenses. Members of the council questioned city staff about ways to further trim the budget in addition to $108,800 already proposed by reducing subscriptions and memberships.
“We’re broke,” said Rice. “It’s time we recognize that.”
Rice has been the leading voice for a ballot measure in the Nov. 8 election calling for a 1 cent sales tax in Westminster to stave off possible financial collapse. She complained Wednesday that her requests for details on certain expenses hadn’t been honored.
“I’m not going to vote for a budget that I don’t have answers on,” she said, and the council majority agreed. Rice, a former mayor of Westminster, is again a candidate for the post, as is incumbent Tri Ta.
Factors influencing Westminster’s financial woes include declining sales tax revenue, slow economic growth and a drop in money from the utility tax as fewer people keep land telephone lines.
Also Wednesday night, the council honored Westminster resident Sandra Morgan for her work as chair of the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force. She received a proclamation and a city hall parking pass.