Budget Meeting Schedule Released
Late this afternoon Interim Communications Director Bill Lobdell issued a Press Release with the following information related to future budget-related meetings scheduled this month. The following is that schedule, plus my observations.
Six meetings in June scheduled to address City’s 2011-2012 budget
FIVE PUBLIC MEETINGS AND A Q&A SESSION
This month, the City of Costa Mesa will hold five public meetings and a question-and-answer session with City employees that will focus on the proposed budget for the 2011-2012 fiscal year.
PREVIOUS PRESENTATIONS AVAILABLE ON CITY WEBSITE
The City has already held several meetings in May that focused on various aspects of the 2011-2012 budget. Citizens can view the presentations on the city’s website.
JUNE MEETING SCHEDULE
The meeting schedule for June is below. Unless otherwise indicated, all meetings will be held in the Council Chambers at City Hall and will broadcast live on CMTV and the Internet. The meetings can also be watched via streaming video anytime on the city website.
* June 7, 2011, City Council meeting, 6 p.m. City Chief Executive Officer Tom Hatch will provide an update on the 2011-2012 budget along with any other relevant information. Although not directly related to the 2011-2012 budget process, an update on the Request for Proposal (RFP), or outsourcing, process will be provided.
* June 14, 2011, City Council study session, 4:30 p.m. City directors will give an overview of their department’s goals for 2011-2012 and be available for questions. City CEO Tom Hatch will present an organizational restructuring plan for the Costa Mesa Police Department. He also will make his final recommendations for the 2011-2012 budget.
* June 16, 2011, budget question-and-answer session with City employees, time and place to be determined. CEO Hatch and Budget and Research Officer Bobby Young will provide a budget overview and answer budget questions from City employees. The meeting is expected to last 90 minutes.
* June 16, 2011, budget question-and-answer session with the public, 6 p.m. City Hall conference room 1A. In an informal setting, CEO Tom Hatch and finance staff will answer budget questions from the public. The meeting is expected to last two hours.
* June 21, 2011, City Council meeting, 6 p.m. This date is reserved for resolving any outstanding issues arising from the two months of public meetings about the budget. The City Council may vote to adopt the 2011-2012 budget.
* June 28, 2011, special City Council meeting, 6 p.m. (if necessary) This date is reserved for resolving any final issues. The City Council may vote to adopt the 2011-2012 budget.
I must observe that this series of meetings, combined with those in May, are unprecedented in the history of this city. In years past only a very few residents took the time to attend the few study sessions that were held and even fewer attended the public question and answer session. Last year 12 attended, but in the immediate three previous years only three or four of us took advantage of the opportunity.
LIKE WATCHING A TRAIN WRECK
In my view, this has been a mixed blessing because, while all the previous meetings this cycle have been well-attended, it has been because so many jobs are on the line. In some ways this is like watching a train wreck occur before your eyes. You don't want to watch the carnage, but can't take your eyes off it.
Personally, I'm continuing to hope that the four men on the city council will push political dogma aside and do what is really right for the future of this city. I continue to hope that they, and the bargaining units, will find a way to come together and resolve what is clearly a disaster unfolding. I hope, knowing just how unlikely this is to happen, particularly in light of the comments made by Jim Righeimer at Tuesday's Study Session. When he called for the staff to just give him the head count so we can get on with it - meaning how many bodies must we sacrifice so he can pretend he's solving the "pension crisis" in our city - it made me shudder.
RABBITS FROM HATS
In two weeks we will know if this council will approve a balanced budget without the use of Fund Balance, as assured by CEO Tom Hatch. As I type this the budget is just under $1 million short of making that goal. I'm not quite sure what kind of a rabbit Hatch intends to pull out of his hat, but I fear it might be in the form of a dozen employees. That would be a real shame.