The Santa Monica City Council last week approved a $377 million city budget for the city fiscal year 2004-05 that begins Thursday, July 1st.

“It’s not the budget that any of us would wish for,” city manager Susan McCarthy said as the budget was approved Tuesday, June 15th.

The budget will have $180.9 million in general fund revenues and expenditures and $196.1 million in expenditures for “other designated funds.”

General fund revenues include:

n $135.3 million from local taxes;

n $21.4 million from licenses and permits; and

n $12.5 million from fines and forfeitures.

General fund expenditures include:

n $37.3 million for the Santa Monica Police Department;

n $36.3 million for salaries and fringe benefits; and

n $21.9 million for the Community and Cultural Services Department.

General fund expenditures also include $6 million in annual funding to the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, a Virginia Avenue Park expansion project and opening of a new Skate Park.

“Other designated funds” include:

n $70.3 million for the Big Blue Bus municipal bus system;

n $38.7 million for the city Redevelopment Agency; and

n $14.1 million for the city Housing Authority.

“Many compromises have been made along the way, but it preserves community needs,” McCarthy said of the budget. “It preserves the financial flexibility that we need as we move forward with cautious optimism.”

The City Council voted to add $72,000 in one-time funding to the general fund for various community programs.

Councilmembers approved:

n $50,000 for the Santa Monica Historical Society;

n $11,000 for the Santa Monica Symphony;

n $10,000 for the Legal Aid Domestic Violence Program; and

n $1,000 for the League of Women Voters Smart Voter Program.

The Pico Youth and Family Center will also receive approximately $290,000 in grant money from the city. The center provides a variety of services and programs to at-risk youths 16 to 23 years old in the Pico Neighborhood.

“Back in October of 1998, we had a series of shootings,” said Oscar de la Torre, Pico center executive director. “One of the things I am really proud of is that this community responded.”

“We now have an institution for a lot of young people. Juvenile crime is now down in our city,” he said.

The center opened in February 2002.

LIVING WAGE — The City Council agreed to set an $11.50 per hour living wage for full-time city employees and city contractors.

The living wage does not apply to interns or trainees.

City staff has been directed to prepare documents for the council to vote on the living wage at another meeting.

Councilmembers also voted to shift $300,000 from the budget and set the funds aside to pay for employee benefits.

The council hopes that, at $11.50, an employee salary can help support a family of four.

“If somebody is playing by the rules in our society and is working 40 hours a week — whatever job they are doing — it is part of a series of occupations that all together make for a healthy society,” said Councilmember Mike Feinstein. “Paying a base living wage that allows somebody to survive is the right thing to do.”

Councilmembers were divided on the living wage issue. The vote was four in favor and three against setting the wage at $11.50 an hour.

Supporting the $11.50 figure were Councilmembers Feinstein and Ken Genser, Mayor pro tempore Kevin McKeown and Mayor Richard Bloom.

Opposing were Councilmembers Bob Holbrook, Herb Katz and Pam O’Connor.

“I think a living wage is important, but it should be across the board,” Katz said. “I don’t favor it just for government work.

“It just means all of us pay more for government work. I think all people need a living wage.”

O’Connor wanted staff to look into providing a wage in the $10 range.

She said $11.50 was too high and maybe employees could get $10.03 or $10.75 per hour, with greater worker benefits.

Bloom said the council decision does not deny a union right to collectively bargain for lower than $11.50 in exchange for other benefits. Most city workers are union members, he said.

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