Councilman: Public safety is top concern in city budget

The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station can be reached by calling 661-260-4000.

Santa Clarita City Council members got their first look at the city’s proposed budget Tuesday, emphasizing public safety, spending in all four major communities of the city and the transparent budget process.

Councilman Bill Miranda stressed public safety as a priority during a joint study session at City Hall with the city’s commissions, whose members were generally favorable to the budget presentation made by City Manager Ken Striplin.

“One of the biggest and most important things a city has to do is protect its citizens,” Miranda said. “In the future, what we need to spend on public safety is going to be a lot more than what we’ve spent in the past.”

Earlier in the evening, Striplin discussed public safety and mentioned the law enforcement reaction to the shooting in Las Vegas, which prompted comments from Miranda that public safety concerns are now ubiquitous, not just in the situation where a massive crowd is gathered.

“It’s not just for venues of 5,000 (people) or above. It’s everywhere. It’s in this room, it’s in this building, so we’re going to have to look at public safety throughout the community in a different way,” Miranda said, “and in a way, that’s going to cost a lot of money and we need to be prepared for that.”

Mayor Pro Tem Marsha McLean responded: “Do you have specifics in what you mean?”

Miranda replied: “Well, the world has changed. We’re not as safe—none of us are as safe as we were a few years ago. It’s not just terrorism. There’s an attitude among a number of people that it’s okay to commit a crime.”

Miranda referred to prison realignments laws such as AB 109 and Propositions 47 and 57 as reasons to increase public safety funding.

“We’ve released a lot of prisoners into the environment,” he said, adding later, “Some of them who have been in prison and feel they have been imprisoned unjustly are keen now to get even.”

Miranda said he did not have specifics, but he wanted the city to be proactive.

Councilman Cameron Smyth said he appreciated the amount of public participation the city does in its budget process, citing the half-dozen or so meetings the city has before presenting a final budget to the city council.

“We err on the side of over-transparency if you will when it comes to our budget,” he said.

McLean said she is pleased city money is spent in Canyon Country, Saugus, Newhall and Valencia with capital projects and services lined up for each area. She cited the community center for Canyon Country, the replacement of paseo bridges and medians in Valencia, the proposed library for Saugus and the economic revitalization of Old Town Newhall.

“This is something that community has wanted for a long time and we’re able to do that,” McLean said of the Saugus library project.

The new sheriff’s station on Golden Valley Road, near Centre Point Parkway, replacing the existing one in the civic center on Magic Mountain Parkway and Valencia Boulevard, is also a priority, according to McLean.

“There’s such a need for that and we’re putting down a pretty good chunk of money to make sure we have a new sheriff’s station so that our law enforcement has a place where they can have their own desk and do what’s necessary for our community,” she said.

Mayor Laurene Weste said she would like to see an emphasis on the arts and said the city’s success is due to teamwork.

“It is a community that is very much integrated with one another,” she said. “We all talk and I think that is great.”

Councilman Bob Kellar was absent Tuesday, but previously told The Signal the city’s longstanding battle with Cemex, the company who has contracts to mine sand and gravel in Soledad Canyon, is a priority. The city disclosed last month that it has spent approximately $12.15 million in fighting Cemex.

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