Pedestrians walk past the Burbank police and fire headquarters.

Pedestrians walk past the Burbank police and fire headquarters. (Times Community News / June 21, 2012)

The City Council this week approved Burbank’s $636-million budget after closing a $1.3-million gap — a relatively small wound compared to other cities that have been hit especially hard by the loss of local redevelopment.

The $1.3-million budget gap was less than last year and did not require lay-offs. Compare that to Glendale, which is struggling to close a projected $15.4-million gap through a mix of lay-offs and early retirements.

While acknowledging that Burbank is in a “much better” condition than other cities, Financial Services Director Cindy Giraldo told the City Council on Tuesday that “our work is not over.”

“Staff will continue to explore options to reduce costs, improve efficiencies and enhance revenues so that we can better position the city for the future,” she said.

Vacant positions were also frozen or, in the case of former redevelopment staff, salaries were lowered. Higher water, sewer, refuse and electric rates were also approved as part of the budget.

Still, Giraldo warned that there was an “unprecedented amount of uncertainty” surrounding the budget because of the dissolution of redevelopment and increasing pension costs, among other changes.

Councilman David Gordon also said he had several concerns with the budget, including customers cutting back on utility consumption as rates increase.

He also noted that the city had incurred significant legal expenses — a reference to the lawsuits filed by current and former police officials and the cost of responding to outside probes into alleged officer misconduct — and wondered if there were other avenues to resolve the claims.

Councilwoman Emily Gabel-Luddy said she felt the budget would “continue to provide services to our community,” pointing out that libraries were not reducing their hours. A school resource officer position was also approved, she said, adding that Burbank Unified would hopefully be able to match funds to be able to have two officers.

Councilman Jess Talamantes was absent, but said at a prior meeting he supported the spending plan.

The City Council adopted the budget 3-1, with Gordon dissenting.

-- Maria Hsin, Times Community News

Twitter: @mariahsin