HomeCity Government NewsBurbank Adopts Budget, Expedites Rent Cap Outreach

Burbank Adopts Budget, Expedites Rent Cap Outreach

The Burbank City Council adopted its 2024-25 budget Tuesday with a general fund balance of $1.3 million, down from $2.2 million after adjustments were made for last-minute program adoptions including a hotly contested rent cap survey.

The budget spending totals $869 million, about 43% of which consists of the Burbank Water and Power budget, with an additional 30% going to the city’s general fund, the main operating fund for the city.

Out of the general fund, fire and police departments account for about half of the budget for the upcoming year.

Prior to the budget adoption, council members requested an additional $953,000 be added for recurring spending to the coming year’s budget, including language interpretation services for City Council meetings, a housing enforcement unit that will carry out the city’s tenant protection ordinance and transportation passes for BUSD students.

The council also expedited a one-time appropriation of $300,000 to fund a survey about a potential local rent cap.

Those new expenditures cut the staff’s initial projected budget balance from $2.2 million to $1.3 million for fiscal year 2024-25.

By 2026, general fund spending is expected to exceed revenues by about $900,000, jumping to a deficit of $2.7 million by 2028.

About 75% of the city’s operating general fund budget consists of salaries and benefits, including pension costs, which are becoming unruly as those retirement commitments remain unfunded by the state, which is combating a mounting $56 billion deficit crisis.

Without the support of Sacramento, the pension liabilities fall on the city to pay obligations to retired police, firefighters and city staff.

Those increasing pension costs are enough to push coffers into the red by 2027, but the city is primed to adopt a plan aimed at addressing the problem by generating additional savings to offset a future deficit, Financial Services Director Jennifer Becker said at the Tuesday City Council meeting.

Budget expenses are expected to grow by about 5.7% over the next five years, outpacing revenue growth of 4.1% and leading to the projected deficit.

Property tax revenues spiked 7.4% from 2022 to 2023 as a result of commercial development in Burbank, city staff said. New construction such as Sphere Studios and the Warner Bros. Second Century developments also brought significant revenues.

The city also saw a 1.7% increase in sales tax revenues in the 2023-24 fiscal year compared with the prior year, despite a 47.1% plunge in motion picture sales as a result of the SAG-AFTRA and Writers Guild strikes last year.


At a public hearing prior to the budget’s adoption, the rent cap issue dominated the public’s focus. Dozens of tenants and landlords spoke.

“We need stronger tenant protections, and you must act now,” A.L. Garcia said at the meeting. “My landlord is tearing [my home] down, along with my garage, to build accessory dwelling units. I’m losing amenities and 1,000 square feet of my unit, and because we don’t have protections, I am unable to file for a rent reduction petition.”

Garcia added that, because there is no rent cap, she’ll be unable to afford the unit in a few years and told the council she hoped they would accelerate the rent cap and tenant protection issues.

Others had concerns about the survey. Sean Najarian, a local landlord, said the costs of everyday goods are spiking, making it more expensive to operate a rental business.

“If the City Council were to proceed with the proposed survey, then I would expect that the council members would ensure the survey questions are prepared … in a manner neither leading or biased and that the survey results are statistically significant,” Najarian said.


The rent cap survey issue dominated most of the budget discussion.

Council members deliberated on how outreach should be conducted, and over what period, ultimately deciding to expedite the issue.

The rent control conversation has been discussed extensively over the past two years without concise action from the council, and, as a result, some members of the public accused the city of purposely running out the clock on the survey issue. The initial timeline proposed to conduct the survey would have posed an additional obstacle to the passage of a future rent cap.

The council acknowledged those concerns and pushed the issue along, ultimately agreeing to accelerate the survey item to be completed over a 90-day period, as a one-time appropriation.

“I have no problem expending [money] in doing this robust outreach in the next 90 to 150 days. I know we can do it, it’s a matter of prioritization and of course clarity of how we are going to spend the funds,” Mayor Nick Schultz said of the survey issue.

The council adopted the budget unanimously 4-0, with Councilwoman Tamala Takahashi absent from the meeting.

First published in the June 8 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

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