Life in San Carlos in the Aftermath of Measure U… and a New Poll.
December 7, 2009
Life will be very different next year in San Carlos…
Such is the sobering reality of life in the City of Good Living. Regardless of how you voted, the failure of Measure U ensures that changes will be taking place in San Carlos next year that will impact each and every one of us in some way. Whether you're one of the unfortunate souls who may lose your livelihood, or you simply can't get into your favorite park because it's now closed, residents of San Carlos will need to adjust to doing more with less next year. There's no question that City Hall needs to bridge the budget gap — we can't deficit spend indefinitely (unlike our federal government.) But how that gap will be closed is still very much up in the air…
Raise Taxes, or Cut Services — Is That It?
It seems that City Hall has a black & white mindset on solving the budget gap — either raise revenue, or cut services. Now that the former is off the table with failure of Measure U, the effort is solely focused only on cutting services. The following is just a portion of what the City Manager is proposing for the new budget:
1. Eliminate Healthy Cities Program
2. Eliminate .7 Rec Coordinator and Special Needs Program
3. Eliminate 1 Rec Superintendent Post.
4. Eliminate Admin Assistant in payroll
5. Reduce employee events like picnic, holiday luncheon, etc
6. Reduce Planning contractor hours .6FTE
7. Eliminate full-time Bldg Inspector
8. Eliminate Park & Rec weekend maintenance.
9. Reduce expenses in Finance operating budget
10. Eliminate Police Diversion (Youth Offense) Officer
11. Reduce Youth Center part-time staff
12. Eliminate 25% of Police CSO staffing
13. Eliminate full-time Park & Rec maintenance worker
Is the cutting of positions and services the only way to close the budget gap? Have we truly looked at everything?
Are Wages and Benefits Off Limits?
That very question became ground zero for in many of the 136 comments from my original post about Measure U, because it appears that the wages and benefits of City employees are off limits in solving the budget deficit. I know that the City recently instituted a tiered pension scale which is less for new employees, and that they have contractual obligations which makes changing compensation a pretty involved process.
But another San Carlos institution that is coping with job cuts and budget deficits has shown that they can share in the pain of their constituents — San Carlos School District Superintendent Dr. Craig Baker will likely delay or forgo an $11,000 bonus this year as part of the budget process. Sure, it's a drop in the $1.4M bucket, but that kind of gesture shows that everyone that's involved in the process indeed has some skin in the game now. I can't say we're quite there yet with City Hall.
A New Poll: Closing the Budget Deficit.
So what do you think is the best way to close the budget gap? Should we take another run at raising taxes again, or should we just resign to the fact that a reduction in services is inevitable? And what about wages and benefits? It will be interesting to see the results of this poll:Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.
If you have other suggestions on how City Hall should best resolve this crisis, don't be shy about leaving a comment!