How To Spend The Budget Surplus?
Take a few minutes to read Luke Money's article from the Daily Pilot, HERE, which outlines what some elected officials think should be done with the anticipated $11 million budget surplus.
MENSINGER SHOVELS THE MANURE
A big chunk of that surplus came from not hiring enough staff. Mayor Steve Mensinger is quoted as saying, "Between outsourcing and being smart about hiring, we have maintained our service level with less people while doing more with technology." What a load of manure! By delaying hiring in public safety organizations, and by dragging their feet on contract negotiations for those groups, not only have response times increased, but the staff that remains is being worked to exhaustion with overtime.
After their fiasco five years ago when they sent out illegal layoff notices to more than 200 employees, spent years in litigation and lost, it looks like the council majority - including the lamest of lame ducks, Gary Monahan (who shows you how he feels about the city in this image) - have figured out that they can get the same result by simply creating such a toxic work environment that people will leave - in droves - and they can be backfilled by consultants with no sense of ownership to what happens in our city. Witness, for example, the recent approval of spending more than $900,000 for temporary staff in the Engineering Department and the $200,000 authorized to fill Claire Flynn's vacancy with a consultant! The list goes on and on.
Katrina Foley is quoted as stating that on a typical day in the last fiscal year we had 73 open positions! She is correct when she opines that it would be a bad idea to put the vacancy savings into any kind of a project.
REBUILD THE RESERVES
In the past Mensinger and Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer have criticized previous councils for "blowing through reserves" during the economic downturn - ignoring the fact that sound financial management permitted those reserves to be there when needed in the first place. We are still more than $20 million short of that reserve level that kept the city afloat in those tough times.
UNFUNDED PENSION LIABILITY SMOKE SCREEN
And, this council majority has yapped about the Unfunded Pension Liability, using it as campaign fodder, since they took office more than 5 years ago and created a special committee to study and advise it on solutions. So far - ZIP - NOTHING - NADA. Not a thing has been done to chip into that pension liability. It's all political rhetoric, aimed directly at the employees, whom they've painted as greedy union thugs and malcontents. Shortly after being created that committee did have an extensive workshop on Municipal Bankruptcy - the only real solution to the unfunded pension liability problem short of a some kind of a miracle in the investment returns at Cal PERS.
PAVING, POTHOLES BEFORE PUBLIC SAFETY
No, this council majority goes merrily along, paving streets, ripping out new median plantings and re-planting and overbuilding so their developer-buddies profit while public safety suffers. And, by "public safety" I don't mean the organizations that provide it - I mean those of us who expect it to be at a level where we feel safe in our city. Today we don't - for lots of reasons.
CLUELESS ON THE GOLF COURSE
It's hard to understand how the two main drivers of this decline in our city, Righeimer and Mensinger, can actually grasp how their policies actually impact the residents as they go about building new Country Club mansions. Their idea of "affordable housing" seems to be $800,000 "starter homes" popping up like clusters of mushrooms on the Westside of town.
WHAT ABOUT SOBER LIVING HOME ENFORCEMENT?
And what about the whole Sober Living Homes issue? We have two ordinances which are NOT being enforced. Is it because we don't have adequate Code Enforcement staffing?
And what about our Homelessness problem? This is conjoined with the Sober Living Home issue and, while we're told efforts are being made to reduce the number of homeless in our city, a drive around town past almost any public park will show you that we are failing on this issue. Should we be spending some cash on that issue?
DEPLETED SELF-INSURANCE FUND
Oh, yes.. how about replenishing the Self Insurance Fund, which has been depleted by the lawsuits that Righeimer and Mensinger have inflicted on our city as a result of their boneheaded schemes? That seems to be a good idea - particularly if they continue on the path they've followed for the last half-decade.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?
So, how do you feel about spending the budget surplus? Should we stash some of it away in our reserves? Should we pay down some of our pension liability? Should we hire more public safety personnel? Both Fire and Police are down significantly. What should be do with that cash?