The Weekly Newspaper of El Segundo
Herald Publications - El Segundo, Hawthorne, Lawndale & Inglewood Community Newspapers Since 1911 - (310) 322-1830 - Vol. 109, No. 38 - September 17, 2020
Certified & Licensed
Real Estate.......... 8-11,15-16
Richmond Bar and Grill Opens
Anew With the Familiar Charm
Richmond Bar & Grill owners, Riley Montz and Zach Lyall enjoying new ownership of an El Segundo historical establishment. For story, see page 3. Photo provided by Casey Montz.
No-Frills Budget Gets OK
By Rob McCarthy
The City Council on Tuesday passed a nofrills,
balanced budget that will require more
spending cuts and hiring freezes over the next
nine months as El Segundo waits for the
economy to rebound from the uncertainty and
restrictions surrounding COVID-19.
Because of the number of businesses that
remain closed or are operating at limited
capacity, city budget planners expect a significant
drop in revenues and tax collections
between October 1 and June 30, when the
2002-21 budget cycle ends. Until an effective
vaccine is available and COVID-19 cases start
to decline significantly, City Manager Scott
Mitnick and Finance Director Joe Lillio expect
the financial effects to continue.
Because of travel restrictions and orders to
stay close to home to reduce the spread of
the novel coronavirus, hotel occupancy rates
have plummeted. The absence of guests and
business travelers might cut bed-tax collections
in half, down from $15.2 million.
The operating budget approved Tuesday
is based on a projection that the COVID-19
health emergency has peaked and that economic
recovery will get underway in October.
If the projection proves correct, El Segundo’s
General Fund will experience a $15.2 million
drop in revenues. The 20 percent drop
in funding will affect all city departments,
starting next month, including the police and
The City Council also approved a separate
spending plan for capital improvement
projects, which will require a one-time use
of reserves. The council Tuesday tweaked an
expenditure for cultural arts and development,
moving $100,000 to the City Gateway Entry
Project. That money was originally budgeted
for downtown arts and beautification.
Thirty-five full-time positions will remain
frozen heading into the next budget cycle,
which will last nine months instead of the
usual 12. Starting next July, El Segundo will
move to a traditional fiscal year that begins
July 1 and ends on June 30.
The City Council in May adjusted El Segundo’s
operating budget after it was learned
revenues dropped by nearly $10 million between
mid-March and early May. According
to City Manager Scott Mitnick, the rioting
and looting that followed the death of George
Floyd in Minneapolis worsened the financial
fallout from the novel coronavirus.
The city’s largest expenditure continues to
be public safety. Police, fire, and paramedic
services will top $40 million in spending over
the next nine months. The Police Department
budget will shrink by $5.3 million and the fire
department budget by $2.9 million, according
to the spending plan approved Tuesday.
Community services - including the library
and Parks and Recreation programming - will
experience the second-largest decrease in funding
in the 2020-21 budget, behind policing.
The city plans to reduce community services
by almost $5 million. The belt-tightening will
affect teens, seniors and the cultural arts.
The City Council must tighten its own belt
and spend $59,000 less next year. The Public
Works Department must cut back, too, for
upkeep and maintenance of streets, landscaping
and city-owned facilities. The Public Works
took an $845,000 cut, though the 10 percent
reduction in funding is much less than what
other departments received.
To balance the operating budget and complete
some planned improvements, El Segundo
leaders agreed to freeze 20 full-time positions,
accept a sizable 15 percent reduction in operations
and maintenance, and use $923,000 from
a reserve fund for capital improvements. And
plans to replace equipment will be downsized.
The hiring freeze temporarily will reduce
police staffing by six positions and by two
in the Fire Department. Public Works will be
shorthanded by five full-time positions, and
the Community Services sector will lose four
staffers at least until next summer.
The city currently has 35 full-time jobs
unfilled to offset the loss of $10 million in
taxes and fees since mid-March when the
state announced emergency measures to slow
Development Services (formerly Planning
and Building Safety), Finance and Human
Resources will lose a single position. The city
will spare business owners, employers, and
residents, from tax increases as they ride out
the pandemic’s effects, the council agreed.
The city plans to hire a risk manager in
2020-21 who will oversee the workers’ compensation
program in the hopes of reducing
the number of cost of claims, City Manager
Scott Mitnick explained. According to Mitnick,
the savings in workers’ comp premium
and payouts should help pay for the Finance
“This is a new position in the budget,”
See City Council, page 12