Two Options Proposed.
Late today, the City of San Carlos issued a press release that outlines the two paths that are now being considered to close the city’s current $3.5M budget gap. While the two options are quickly outlined in the City Budget Overview from the city website, they will be discussed in much more detail in the upcoming City Council Budget Workshop that will be held next Saturday, March 13 at 12:00 at the San Carlos Library. But even with few details to draw from, one thing is very evident — both options take radically different approaches to solving the budget deficit.
The City’s “Preferred” Path: Outsource Fire and Police Services.
You may have heard rumors to the effect that the City was considering outsourcing the Fire Department services to Cal Fire, and the Police Department services to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office. Well, these are no longer rumors – in today’s press release, City Manager Mark Weiss left no doubt that this is his “preferred path” to closing the budget deficit, since it accounts for $3M-$6M in potential savings. This proposal also calls for outsourcing park maintenance, and for the installation of parking meters downtown for an additional savings of up to $500K.
The Other Path: Cuts Across the Board.
The second option that is being considered is essentially an aggregation of the cuts that were proposed earlier in the 10%/20% budget reduction exercises that were conducted a few months back by each of the key departments. The press release has more details, but some of the major elements of this proposal include:
- Eliminate 9 full-time City positions.
- Close Youth Center and Laureola Building.
- Eliminate 2 full-time police positions, and numerous part-time positions.
The press release is careful to state that this is only a “partial listing of anticipated program impacts”, which implies that more “program impacts” (aka cuts) are possible.
More Questions than Answers.
Obviously, the details of each proposal will be covered in much greater depth at the Budget Workshop on March 13, but the vague nature and notable exceptions of this press release certainly raise more questions than answers. Here are just a few:
- Neither proposal mentioned a word about the possible closure of Crestview and Arguello Parks. Is this now off the table, or are they one of those potential “program impacts” that are referred to above?
- What happens to the existing Fire and Police personnel? Are they offered jobs and absorbed into the Sheriff’s Department and Cal Fire, respectively, or will they all lose their jobs?
- No mention of the closure of Fire Station 16 — what does this mean?
Answers to these questions (and others) will certainly shape the public’s opinion about the proposed options.
What Do You Think?
It’s important to remember that more details on both proposals will (hopefully) be forthcoming in the near future. But based on what you see so far, what are your thoughts? While the Fire and Police Departments account for nearly 60% of the total budget, is it fair to pin them with 100% of the responsibility to fix the budget? How do you feel about outsourcing these vital services? Do you want the San Mateo County Sheriff’s office to be responsible for the public safety of San Carlos?
Make your opinion heard. Cast your vote in the poll below…
or feel free to leave a comment to this post.
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