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Thursday, Nov 30, 2023

First on Agenda for Council: Solving the Money Crunch

The long-awaited San Fernando Valley Council of Governments has finally secured its leaders but now has to figure out how to operate on a shoe-string budget. The council, which was formed to govern the Southern California Association of Government’s San Fernando Valley sub-region, held its first meeting on July 8. The joint-powers agency, which received final approval in May, was established to provide coordination of government planning and programming. The council of government’s board, made up of 12 political officials representing the Valley region, elected Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky as its board chairman. Glendale Councilmember Ara Najarian was elected to serve as vice chairman. But once the positions were decided, the board members had a much more difficult question to tackle. When and how would they set up a budget for future projects, the first being the hiring of an interim executive director or the use of a contracted administrative service? With a starting budget of $60,000, which is a collection of $10,000 annual dues from each participating jurisdiction, the board would be required to start tapping into alternative funding sources before hiring any staff. Aug. 12 meeting The council, which is set to normally hold its meetings quarterly, decided to plan a special meeting on Aug. 12 to address the question. “The COG will be eligible for grants that come through a number of sources for specific projects and studies,” said Yaroslavsky, adding that the main focus for future funding will likely be on federal grants. “I don’t have any expectations that we will solicit any private companies directly for contributions. We won’t turn any down, but I don’t think that’s the way the COG envisions raising its funds.” The Southern California Association of Governments is also expected to provide funding for certain projects, officials said. Bob Scott, director of the Mulholland Institute of the Valley Economic Alliance, was named during the meeting as the leading candidate to serve as interim executive director for the group. Scott has served as the facilitator for the formation of the council of governments, as well as a leader in planning the Southern California Association of Governments’ San Fernando Valley sub-region and other regional efforts. “If he wants to apply for the permanent job, his interest will be welcomed,” Yaroslavsky said. “He’s obviously been a moving force behind getting the COG in place and he would be a serious candidate.” Scott said the Mulholland Institute and Valley Economic Alliance have proposed an option to the board – a turnkey management service that allows Scott to be subcontracted through the economic organization on a monthly basis. Until the Aug. 12 meeting, Scott and Valley Economic Alliance President and CEO Bruce Ackerman agreed to have the organization continue performing some administrative tasks for the council until a decision is made. While many councils of governments do choose to hire their own executive directors, others opt to contract for services, Scott said. Road map On July 8, the board was also presented with a second I-5 Corridor Economic Development Plan, which was completed by The McCarty Company LLC, in June. The study is a data follow-up to the Mulholland Institute’s initial study released in 2007, which looked at industry growth and economic development opportunities in the freeway corridor communities. Yaroslavsky said the council board would read the report and use it to help determine which projects to consider. “There’s a lot of unutilized potential along that corridor,” he said. “(The study is) a road map to where we want to go and the COG board will consider all of the recommendations.” The council of government’s board members include the following officials: Yaroslavsky and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich; Los Angeles city councilmembers Paul Koretz, Tom LaBonge, Tony Cardenas, Greig Smith, Richard Alarcon and Dennis Zine; Glendale Councilmember Ara Najarian; Burbank Vice Mayor Jess Talamantes; San Fernando Mayor Mario Hernandez; and Santa Clarita Councilwoman Laurie Ender.

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