Is all of this talk about budget cuts giving you indigestion?
Unfortunately, it’s only just the beginning. In tonight’s San Carlos City Council meeting, the “new” Council (welcome aboard Andy Klein!) will vote on the proposed operating budget reductions that were the decided on earlier this year. These cuts in service and personnel are estimated to save the City nearly $707,000 in the upcoming fiscal year. For more details on what will likely face the axe in tonight’s vote, download this file:
As tough as these cuts are to take, they shouldn’t come as a surprise. They’ve been on the chopping block since May/June of this year in anticipation of a budget shortfall, and now with the failure of Measure U it’s highly likely that the Council will vote to enact these cuts. But if you think this is the last you’ll hear about cuts in services, think again — these cuts only address the expected shortfall for the ’09-’10 fiscal year.
Looking ahead to 2010-11.
In anticipation of an additional budget shortfall, the City Manager has tasked all of the department heads with providing details on how their department would handle budget cuts of 10% and 20% in the 2010-11 budget year. That information has been made public, and it’s pretty scary stuff. (Note that these proposals are only the starting point for debate and discussion, so they are not being voted on in tonight’s meeting.)
Here are the reduction reports from four of the bigger city departments that could greatly impact the enjoyment and safety for ALL San Carlos residents:
#1. San Carlos Police Department:
Here are the major points from the reduction report that Police Chief Greg Rothaus submitted to the City Manager in order to achieve the required 10% and 20% reduction levels.
10% Reduction Scenario:
- Elimination of 4 full-time police officers and 1 detective, representing a 20 percent reduction in patrol staffing and 50 percent reduction in detectives.
- Staffing per shift will be reduced to 2 officers and 1 sergeant for the entire city, on a regular basis.
20% Reduction Scenario:
- All cuts outlined in the 10% scenario, plus…
- Reduction of one Police Commander.
- Elimination of all of the police technicians who support the officers and detectives with critical, time-consuming work.
- Elimination of 6 police vehicles from the fleet.
What does this mean to you?
- Without backup, officers will face higher risk in making traffic stops, or in pursuing suspects. They’ll have to work more overtime, and that will increase their level of fatigue.
- San Carlos won’t be able to rely on backup from Belmont and Redwood City police, because we won’t have enough officers to respond to the other cities’ calls. This would destroy the mutual aid arrangement and leave our city bare of outside help. We already receive 65 percent more outside assists from neighboring agencies than we provide. And when will those cities start asking for payback?
- Response times to emergency calls will “increase to dangerous levels.”
- No response will be made to misdemeanor property crimes, burglar alarms and non-injury accidents.
- Car burglary? House burglary? Vandalism to your property? You’ll likely be asked to fill out and submit a report online, rather than talk face to face with an officer. And it’s likely that no one will be available to follow up or investigate.
Or to put it in the chief’s words, “Because we frequently have multiple incidents occurring at once, this staffing level can lead to situations that will be unsafe for the public and our officers.”
To see the complete report on the proposed police department cuts, click here–> San Carlos Police Reductions
#2. San Carlos Fire Department.
Here are the major points of their proposed cuts to achieve 10/20% budget reduction:
- Elimination of a Fire Inspector and Disaster Preparedness Officer.
- Take Truck 14 out of service, and replace with a smaller crew managing a single engine.
- Reduce operating hours at Station 16 (Howard and Alameda) or close the station entirely.
To see the complete report on the proposed fire department cuts, click here –> San Carlos Fire Department Reductions
#3. San Carlos Park and Rec Department
Of all of the departments that were required to submit budget reductions, none will have such an obvious impact as the Park and Rec Department. Here are just a few of the bigger cuts in their two proposals:
10% Reduction Scenario:
- Eliminate two staff positions: Recreation Coordinator and a Recreation Supervisor.
- Cancel Summer Concert Series and Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony.
- Eliminate support for Hometown Days and Hot Harvest Nights.
- Close Cedar Park and San Carlos Avenue Park.
20% Reduction Scenario:
- Close Youth Center.
- Close both Crestview and Arguello Parks.
- Drastically reduced maintenance to remaining parks.
To see all of the cuts outlined under the 10/20% reduction scenarios, click here –> San Carlos Park and Rec Reductions
#4. San Carlos Department of Public Works.
Want a dark city? That’s exactly what the Department of Public Works has in store if they’re forced to reduce their operating budget. Here are the key points.
- Take 170 street lights out of service on streets that have no sidewalks. (10% reduction plan.)
- Take an additional 560 street lights out of service, representing 1/3 of the street light inventory in all of San Carlos. (20% reduction plan.)
For the complete details, click here –> San Carlos Public Works Cuts
What’s At Stake?
The very fabric of what makes San Carlos a great place to live is at stake right now. The safety of our citizens and the activities and facilities that we have long taken for granted may be in danger of being stripped away if the City faces another budget short fall. Even though these scenarios won’t be voted on until the middle of 2010 at the earliest, discussions are already starting to take place already as you can tell by the attached reports.
If you care at all about the quality of life in San Carlos, it’s time to step up and make your voice heard — either attend the City Council meeting, or send an email to the Council and let them know how you feel:
Randy Royce: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bob Grassilli: email@example.com
Omar Ahmad: firstname.lastname@example.org
Matt Grocott: email@example.com
Andy Klein: firstname.lastname@example.org
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