Monday, May 30, 2011

Budget Study Session Tuesday

NEXT BUDGET MEETING
If you think this is an echo it's because, for the second week in a row, there will be a Budget Study Session. On Tuesday, May 31st, the Costa Mesa City Council will hold the next in its series of meetings/study sessions on the Fiscal Year 2011-2012 Budget.

AVAILABLE ONLINE
The Preli
minary Operating and Capital Improvement Budget was distributed last week and is available for review on the City web site. There's a link right on the front of the Home Page, HERE.

EXPENDITURES TO BE THE FOCUS TUESDAY

Last Tuesday the Revenue side of the budget was discussed before nearly 60 interested residents and staffers. I anticipate Tuesday's meeting, which starts at 4:30 p.m., will be more heavily attended because this segment will deal with the Expenditures side of the ledger - the side that will end up with blood on the walls from the slashing of staff and services. This document will NOT include the impact of any possible outsourcing overtures. None of those decisions are expected to be made until the fall, when the initial budget will have been in place for a quarter of the budget year.

LEGAL BUDGET UP A THIRD

As I went through the budget quickly I found some interesting numbers. For example, the budget for the City Attorney's office - the contract with Jones & Mayer - will increase by 33% for the new fiscal year, from $530,550 to $703,000. That one should get your attention and give you a pretty good idea of what the City is thinking about the litigation in our future.

STREETS OR STAFF?
The City Council has required that this budget include more money for Capital Improvements - roads and other infrastructure. In simple
terms, it's likely that we will see more jobs lost in order to pave streets.

POLICE DEPARTMENT LEVEL, BUT...
The Police Department budget remains basically level, but reflects the loss of several full time positions and the folding-in of officers previously assigned to the ABLE program.

EVERY TUESDAY UNTIL JULY 1
It is anticipated that meetings will continue to be held every Tuesday u
ntil July 1st - the drop dead date for a balanced budget to be approved by the City Council. Next week there will be the regularly- scheduled council meeting, as there will be on the 21st. On the 14th there will be another study session which will almost certainly involve the finishing touches on the budget. If the council does not approve a budget on June 21st, there remains the possibility of a special meeting on the 28th to accomplish that goal.

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12 Comments:

Anonymous Tom Egan said...

The Council has decided to spend exactly $6,500,000 in the coming fiscal year for "Citywide Street Improvements." This is a huge and unprecedented bundle to drop on street repair.

What's odd about this CIP (Capital Improvement) is the cited justification "City Council's Goal and Objective No. 98-B9 'Street repairs need greater effort.'"

You'd think that kind of wording, when used in the midst of a recession, means that city hall has just discovered that our streets are nearly impassable and we can't wait another minute to fix them.

But judging by the ID number, 98-B9, these words were adopted in 1998, thirteen years ago. Some emergency!

Well, Egan, maybe the streets really are wasted?

Let's look at the partial list of streets on page 167 of the big book (Preliminary Operating and Capital Improvement Budget). There are a handful of arterials (e.g., 17th, 19th) that might have potholes somewhere, but there are more local neighborhood streets, including cul de sacs, Lanes, and Circles, that don't bear much traffic at all.

So, if they're short $3 million for next year, they could certainly delay many of these until times are better.

They wouldn't even need to lean on themselves as the Redevelopment Agency to pay back the $1.6 million the RDA has in its bank account.

Sure looks like they've manufactured a crisis ... spend money like a drunken sailor then, because you are "out of money," lay off half your workforce.

The continuing question I have is, why are Gary Monahan and Eric Bever going along with this flim flam? Has anyone seen them say with a straight face, "Man, we sure need to pour a lot of money into potholes in the midst of this recession!"

Have they turned all the mirrors to the wall in their homes so they can shave without looking at themselves?

5/30/2011 11:16:00 PM  
Blogger valan2 said...

Good points, Tom Egan. Monahan and Bever have both cited "actions of prior City Councils" for the problems the City is currently facing (high salaries, enhanced retirement benefits, etc.).

Maybe they will decide they don't want to be on the other end of the table, and be blamed by future City Councils for creating problems for the future (e.g., creating deficits by increasing expenditures at a time when revenues are down, laying off staff and then being stuck with escalating costs of contract services, etc.).

There's still time to save the City and buy themselves some goodwill.

5/31/2011 12:07:00 AM  
Anonymous unionquiltersforleece said...

fixing potholes stimulates the economy, gives much work and $$ to workers who then spend it. Tom Egan, a man of few words (his description in an earlier, very long post). The rda funds generate a handsome interest rate return, why cash them in? to give to Nick B for email intercept software? where is he anyway?? things are slow without him and Muir's writings are so far off they are not even controversial. Maybe things will pick up tonight.

5/31/2011 07:15:00 AM  
Anonymous My Opinion said...

Tom. First of all don't assume that Monahan and Beaver ever need to shave. Secondly, Beaver is weak and doesn't think and Monahan lacks what the CEO Hatch calls "character". He always has.

5/31/2011 07:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Max said...

Some articles in the paper that bode well for the City Council- Crime is down, even with fewer officers and outsourcing our City Attorney office has saved tons of money. This is the stuff the residents care about. It will certainly help our Council's reputation. From what I hear from my friends, they are all very happy with how our Council is doing. Regardless of whether your hated 4 are or are not responsible for these things, the public will credit them with it. It's a very positive time for our City.

5/31/2011 08:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Civics 101 said...

"unionquitersforleece". From your standpoint, short and stupid beats longer and smart.

Just how does it help Costa Mesa's budget for contractors who live God knows where to get City money to fill potholes?

Politicians can spin the budget numbers to look whatever way they prefer. Especially those like the City Attorney's budget which is made up of a multitude of various different factors and circumstances from year to year. Just factor in the ones you want and leave out those that don't work the way you want. Then get the Daily Pilot via Lobdell to print your propaganda. How do you measure the Quality of legal services or the lack thereof?

5/31/2011 08:48:00 AM  
Anonymous One Person's Opinion said...

I don’t think Eagan got this right. The $6.5 is Measure M, and cannot be allocated to General Fund.

I would like the infrastructure to go to a ballot measure that would lock in the dedicated funding towards infrastructure as a percent of revenue like a Huntington Beach.

Thank you to the Eagan’s for raising the question of how much the City has paid to outsource legal services. I think that is one of the best examples in a long and growing list of where outsourcing has been effective in saving money yet maintaining service. I was surprised to see a lawyer ask a question they did not know the answer to and have it come back & bite’m. I think we realize that the Eagan Household income is supported by the very pensions of which many seek to reform.

5/31/2011 09:02:00 AM  
Anonymous My .02 said...

To Tom Egan: I was active in school issues when the NMUSD kept delaying maintenance year after year after year. They bungled maintenance so badly that it ballooned from $15 million to $100 million in no time flat. That led to the bonds, which got a lot of pork added to them and we're now ultimately going to be on the hook for $492 million. You may not like the council majority but I've seen the delayed maintenance movie and the ending is really bad.

5/31/2011 09:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Down in out in CM said...

I WANT granite-slab countertops, but I all I really NEED is a sanitary work-surface. I'm flat-broke, but I really WANT the granite. But logically, all I can afford is the IKEA faux walnut butcher-block that looks really luxurious.

Geez, I wonder if I whine long enough I'll convince everyone I deserve the granite because I know it will attract better friends over?

Hmmm? Wait a minute, I just remembered that I never cashed that significant check from my brother-in-law from that personal loan.

Wait, I got it! Maybe I'll just use the beautiful walnut with a ONE sumptuous granite island? That way my friends will still think I have "pride-of-ownership", and think I'm a great cook too!

My point is: WANT VS. NEED.

The CC WANTS new streets, but they can't barely afford to patch & slurry the bad spots (btw, easily could've done if some RDA money was refunded)

Until the City substantially increases REVENUE by increasing the business-license fees, that are equal to a nominal % of gross yearly-sales, or a temporary .25% local sales tax in 2012. CM Residents CANNOT & will not fund the excessive capital improvements on this omnipotent city council's, oops I mean, Righeimer's egocentric "WISH-LIST".

5/31/2011 09:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Snake oil said...

Down and out - you need to start paying attention, the business license fee miracle cure is an illusion. Get some new talking points from Muir.

5/31/2011 11:06:00 AM  
Blogger valan2 said...

I just verified that the money designated for capital improvements (all except about $200,000) will come from restricted accounts (gas tax, Measure M, etc.) and/or grants. Those funds are all restricted by law, and could not be used for other purposes. So, even if the capital improvement budget were eliminated entirely, the preliminary budget would still show a deficit. I guess we'll have to look for something else to cut.

5/31/2011 11:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Confused Local said...

Do those Restricted accounts also include the 7 million earmarked for "improvements" to city hall? Seems rather silly to fix up a building that's going to be nearly vacant in a few months...unless they are trying to prep the nest for their incoming friends? So how about borrowing 3.3 million from that, sounds reasonable to me.

5/31/2011 05:24:00 PM  

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