About a dozen people representing and advocating for the Family Service Agency of Burbank gave the City Council their input about how important its school-based counseling is to students.
The supporters were at a City Council meeting on Tuesday trying to convince council members to approve another three-year agreement with Family Service Agency and the Boys & Girls Club of Burbank and the Greater East Valley.
Though they agreed that the nonprofit's services are important for young people in the community, council members voted 4-0 to approve only a one-year reimbursement agreement with the two nonprofits because of a forecast deficit in the city's budget. Councilman David Gordon was absent because he was on a city-related trip to Washington, D.C.
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The agreement states that Burbank will reimburse the Family Service Agency up to $245,000 for its school-based counseling program and up to $25,000 to the Boys & Girls Club for its drop-in middle school program.
Resident Janet Diel said students today are facing many issues, such as bullying, peer pressure, substance abuse and family concerns. She said she thinks that the Family Service Agency's counseling program helps students understand what is happening and why.
"Children have, what my grandson Andrew calls, a safe person — someone that he can talk to and have listen to him and hear his concerns and help him understand why children call him names and why they're doing what they're doing," Diel said.
Councilman Bob Frutos, who during his career as a Los Angeles police officer spent time as a youth services officer, asked his colleagues to consider possibly approving a two-year deal with the nonprofits, pointing out that the youth counseling provided by the Family Service Agency and the Boys & Girls Club has a significant impact on the students it serves.
"I don't want to do just one year," he said. "I think that does a disservice. We're talking about young adolescents entering adulthood and the pressures that they're going through. To me, [the nonprofits' programs are] a good outlet."
However, City Manager Ron Davis said the budget deficit is projected to grow over the next five years and city officials need to keep that in mind.
"We really have a serious financial problem that we haven't faced since the 20 years I've been here," said Davis, who was general manager of Burbank Water and Power for many years before being promoted to his current position last June. "It's serious. It's not some minor thing. It would take reductions in city services to make that budget balanced."
Mayor Jess Talamantes concurred with Davis, saying that he has to make a tough decision about this and other items as the city gets closer to drafting its budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
"I'll support a one-year [deal], but not a two-year [deal]," Talamantes said. "Even though I want to, I just have to be smart and listen to where we're headed."
Anthony Clark Carpio, firstname.lastname@example.org
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