Cuts to Public Works
Last night, the Transportation and Circulation Commission held a meeting to discuss the cuts that are being proposed by the San Carlos Public Works Department in order to close their portion of the $3.5M budget deficit in San Carlos. There’s an excellent article in the Daily Journal that discusses the meeting agenda in great detail, but basically the recommendation that’s being put on the table by Public Works recommends turning off 45% of the City’s streetlights to save the City approximately $75,000 per year.
Ironically, it will initially cost the City $60,000 to make this change. (Gotta think that would buy quite a few solar panels, no?)
Perhaps lost in all of the recent press about park closures and all-weather turf at Highlands, the meeting last night was sparsely attended. In fact, only one citizen spoke out against the proposed brown-out, and he got the impression from the commission that “this is what you get for voting against a revenue measure.” While nothing will be decided until the March 22nd City Council Meeting, it’s hard to imagine that these cuts won’t be approved — especially since there appears to be no “Plan B” on the table to reduce costs.
The Perfect Metaphor
Somehow, the prospect of turning out streetlights struck me as ironic.
Yesterday, an officer from the San Carlos Police Department knocked on our front door. Apparently, someone had burglarized my neighbor’s garage two doors down, and the officer was dutifully interviewing neighbors to see if they had seen anything suspicious, etc.. None of our neighbors were able to provide any information…most likely because the burglary took place 8 days ago. The department is so short-staffed, that this officer was only now able to come out and investigate the incident. Gotta believe the bad guys are long gone by now.
I talked with the officer for a few minutes about the upcoming budget cuts, and he was very aware that his department is on the chopping block too. In fact, he spoke of rumors that are circulating that the police responsibility for San Carlos may be handed over to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department — granted, this is a rumor — but it’s one that I have been hearing as well.
The Future Of San Carlos.
In the next month or so, decisions will be made by our City Council that will have immediate and dramatic effects on the quality of life in San Carlos. A fire station closure, Police Department cutbacks, and park closures are all on the table…right now. To put it in another perspective:
“It’s going to be a very different form of city government if these cuts go through. It will be a real radical change,” said Public Works Director Robert Weil.
It will also be a very different form of life around our City if these changes go through. As a San Carlos homeowner, do you have something at stake here? Absolutely. Aside from the obvious safety ramifications, these changes may prove to be detrimental to our stable housing prices. All of the factors that make San Carlos a desirable place to live, and that keep our house prices high — schools, weather, location — could be overshadowed by these fundamental changes in our City.
It’s an opinion that has been offered to my by several homeowners that I have spoken with — homeowners who were once considering “moving up” in San Carlos, but are now seriously considering “moving out.”
There are only a few more opportunities that the public will have to voice their opinion on the proposed cuts, and the future of our City. I highly encourage you to email your City Council members and let them know how you feel. Attend the remaining City Council meetings that will be held in advance of the budget discussion — if you look at the right side of the blog, there’s a section titled “What’s New in the City of San Carlos” in which I carry the feed from the City website. Announcements on upcoming meetings, as well as the agendas, should be there.
It’s your city, after all.
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