New Agoura budget covers broad services



NATURE LOVER—A child plays next to the iconic mountain lion sculpture at the Agoura Hills Recreation Center, one of the many amenities offered to the public by the city. Courtesy of Mike Bigalke, Landscape Structures Inc.

NATURE LOVER—A child plays next to the iconic mountain lion sculpture at the Agoura Hills Recreation Center, one of the many amenities offered to the public by the city. Courtesy of Mike Bigalke, Landscape Structures Inc.

Road improvements and public safety expenses are dominant themes in the 2018-19 municipal budget recently approved by officials in Agoura Hills.

The 200-page budget outlines coming revenues and expenses in all phases of city operation, including employee salaries, public works projects and community development programs.

The city’s capital improvements list through 2019 includes annual street resurfacing work and construction on the Palo Comado 101 Freeway overpass remodel, which is projected to cost about $11 million over two years. The Kanan Road overpass, which was rebuilt in 2007, will require an additional $500,000 in upkeep and improvements.

A bridge-widening project at Roadside Drive is expected to cost an additional $1.7 million.

The city’s $35-million budget is spent on a variety of services and projects.

Public safety gobbles up 29 percent of the general fund. The city contracts with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, which provides patrol cars, traffic personnel, a juvenile intervention team and drug awareness programs. The city approved a 3.5 percent rate increase for sheriff services, but $100,000 in state grants will help offset the cost.

The two-year budget also includes $2 million to be spent on transportation projects from Measure R funds, including a new intersection design for Kanan and Agoura roads and the completion of the Agoura Road widening project.

Another $14.5 million is projected to be spent on landscaping, street and sidewalk repairs and other improvement projects through L.A. County Measure M transportation funding. The city will also spend $14.5 million of Measure M funds on the Palo Comado Interchange. Stormwater mandates will continue to be funded by Agoura Hills.

Because it contains creeks that flow into the Pacific Ocean, Agoura Hills has set aside money in its budget to help protect the 109-mile Malibu Creek Watershed.

Agoura Hills must comply with state and federal urban runoff requirements by implementing programs that limit the contaminants flowing into the ocean.

“The full cost of the improvements needed to bring the city into compliance is still unknown, but the costs are now affecting the city’s annual budget and will continue to do so into the future without some consistent and relative revenue source,” a city report stated.

In other environmental matters, Councilmember Illece Buckley Weber asked that the lighting on Agoura Road be addressed at a future budget meeting. She hopes residents will share their opinions on whether they like or dislike the lighting plan for the street. Some have said the lighting on the new Agoura Road is too bright. A photometric study will be presented, Buckley Weber said.

Councilmember Denis Weber said he was proud to be part of a City Council that regularly balances its budget.

Councilmember Harry Schwarz agreed. “We have a buoyant and balanced budget every single year,” he said.

Agoura Hills recently earned a certificate of achievement from the state Government Finance Officers Association for excellence in finance reporting and, for a second time, the city received the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the same agency.

“At the end of the process, I realize how much work goes into the budget,” Mayor Bill Koehler said. “I’m glad to see there’s not a lot of red ink and that we are fiscally sound.”