Thursday, April 09, 2009

Tuesday Is Decision Day

Next Tuesday, April 14th, the Costa Mesa City Council will hold a special meeting in the Council Chambers at 6 p.m. to discuss the budget.


This is a session in which the city staff will present to
the council the things they've done to balance this year's budget and their ideas for coming up with a balanced Fiscal Year 2009/2010 budget. They will be looking to the council for direction, so they can begin the preparation of the new budget.

It looks like there is enough available, accessible cash left in the fund balance piggy bank to make it through t
he current fiscal year, which ends in June. Beyond that, there will not be enough left in the kitty to balance next year, so changes must be made.

At the last council meeting I was amused by the "presentation" by "improver" activist Judi Berry, who fancies herself some kind of fiscal watchdog. In fact, over at the CM Press today, the racist yapping hyena who runs that blog described her as a "local financial wiz". I couldn't stop laughing for several minutes when I read that. The perky Ms. Berry - the smart half of the team of Mike and Judi Berry - presented a graphic for the council to consider. However, as she presented it she acknowledged that the numbers
were not accurate because it would have been too hard to round off the real numbers! So much for being a financial wiz! Actually, considering who she was dealing with, she could make up and present ANY numbers and the four council members present last Tuesday probably wouldn't know the difference!


Next Tuesday will be a watershed day for our city. The council will be asked to set the course for the staff to navigate through our current financial crisis. It will be very interesting to see just how willing this council will be to make the tough decisions that appear to be necessary to keep our city fiscally solvent.


Any resident who feels they have good ideas for balancing next year's budget should contact the council or city staff by telephone or email. If you really want to make an impact, present yourself before the council next Tuesday and use the three minutes provided to you during public comments to sell them on your ideas. Now is the time to make your views known.

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Anonymous rob dickson said...

I intend to write a letter and speak at the council meeting if possible. The proposals are outrageous!

4/10/2009 04:01:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Rob, did you read the agenda for Tuesday's meeting.... lots to digest. The yapper at the CM Press gave us his view - inaccurate though they may be.

4/10/2009 07:36:00 PM  
Anonymous rob dickson said...

Geoff, I did, and the ghosts kidnapped my detailed response. I commented on Righeimer's column, so they'll be there.

Essentially, I am highly irritated that service cuts, layoffs and new and increased fees/taxes are the proposed solutions when we could save massive amounts of money by requiring City employees to make their own contributions to their benefits and retirement plans, like pretty much everyone else does. The ONLY retirement savings cited was $560k for cuts to "Retirement Health Savings Plan."

Enough is enough - our municipal government does not exist to ensure that public sector employees enjoy a comfy retirement on our dime, while the citizens they serve fend for their own with Social Security, 401(k) and other individual retirement plans.

I'm not suggesting that the City not provide 401(k) and/or other IRAs to which it would contribute, but the defined-benefit pensions that are wreaking financial havoc on CA public agencies MUST be done away with.

4/11/2009 03:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Frank S said...

Easy Rob, Lets not forget these elected officals vote on City employee wages and benefits. Being a public employee, I try and serve my community the best I can. Years ago, I chose less pay for your so called comfy retirement.

4/11/2009 06:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Rob Dickson said...

Frank S.,

As I said in my posting on the Daily Pilot - which they have not posted yet - city employees and their unions negotiated for, and received, the generous packages that they have now. This is not an "us vs. them" situation, and the city did not provide the pay and benefits at gunpoint.

My points are very, very simple - 1) the money is not there, and jobs may be lost unless concessions are made; and 2) the city should not cut services to, and raise taxes/fees on, the citizens and businesses it exists to serve just to maintain employee salaries and benefits at otherwise unsustainable levels.

Higher pay, more robust pensions, and more generous benefits are all products of better economic times. Employee unions negotiated for better pay because the city had more money. They were right to do so, and they deserved that level of pay and benefits.

Now that the city is in financial distress, the employee unions will have to give some of those gains back in order for the city to remain healthy. Employer-paid, defined benefit pensions are the exception, not the norm, and should be done away with.

I also cleary stated that our municipal employees are top-notch and deserve respect and good pay. I have nothing against them at all. The hard reality is that most of the city budget goes to their pay and benefits, and that is where the cuts/savings should come from.

As for my "comfy retirement" - that is a long way off, as I have lost 60% of my retirement savings to the market's downturn. Social Security is scheduled to be broke long before I retire, despite the tens of thosusands of dollars I have contributed. I pay for my own retirement, Frank.

Public employees with defined-benefit pensions are not exposed to the same risks, and most don't pay their own retirement constributions. As it stands now, while we potentially lose cops and firefighters, and our savings get annihilated, and friends of mine have to put off retirement, government employees keep getting their retirement contributions made and have their retirement benefits guaranteed - regardless of the economic health of the government entity they worked for.

Finally, due to economic condidtions, my company laid off over 500 people in February, some of who I know well. Further, our salaries were frozen, even those expecting long-awaited promotions and raises. Personally, I am glad that they made these hard choices and did what was needed to remain healthy and keep the maximum number of people busy.

That is what happens when revenues fall short of expenditures. Unlike a city, we cannot raise taxes and fees, and Costa Mesa shouldn't either - not until they have adjusted the employee compensation and benefits structure to reflect economic reality.

I'm not against city employees advocating for themselves, or asking for the best deal the city can afford. We citizens deserve the beast employees and that requires fair compensation. The employee unions need to get on board and encourage their members to help shoulder some of the burden for getting through these hard times. I'm pretty sure that no one will object to giving the concessions back, with a premium, once the economy recovers and the coffers refill.

4/12/2009 03:55:00 PM  
Blogger mesa verde madman said...

Nice to see that Bever couldn't be bothered to show up for the meeting...

4/15/2009 10:33:00 AM  

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