The good news is that the City of Santa Barbara’s proposed budget – unveiled Tuesday – is balanced for the first time in five years; the bad news is that a major showdown is brewing between harbor boat owners and City Hall regarding a proposed four percent hike in slip fees. City budget chief Robert Peirson explained city revenues were $2.3 million higher than anticipated and costs were $1.8 million less; as a result, the “adjustments” required – $500,000 worth – were far less than feared. Peirson said city department heads have figured out how to bridge that gap by increasing revenues and cutting costs without cutting services. To that end, Councilmembers Helene Schneider and Das Williams suggested the Waterfront Department shoulder the cost – $186,000 – of sweeping the city’s beaches, typically borne by Parks and Recreation. In turn, the Waterfront director proposed an increase in slip fees, angering the Harbor Commission and boat owners, who are preparing for a political battle.

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