Wednesday, September 14, 2016

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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?

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Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

What should be done with the money? It should be put back in the accounts from which it was "borrowed" in order to show a surplus. There is no surplus in reality. We need to take care of so much debt its insane. The surplus is only on paper. Ask Mensinger how much debt the city has. He failed to mention that part of the equation.

9/14/2016 06:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Casual Viewer said...

Hey honey, we have a budget surplus this year. Aren't I a great provider? I quit making insurance payments, used the kid's college fund to buy pretty rocks for our landscaping, and used credit cards for all of our everyday expenses!
Welcome to Steve's world - where up is down and wrong is right. Also known as Not So Public Square.

9/14/2016 06:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Ken Nyquist said...

How about sit still and back up the rainy day...

9/14/2016 07:17:00 PM  
Blogger mesa verde madman said...

Maybe a new crown for the king?

9/15/2016 06:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Casual Viewer said...

These numbers are usually corrected a short time after they are released to the press. Let's wait and see what happens.

9/15/2016 06:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

One thing they are notorious for, is budgeting for say 25 new employees. Then, hire about 5, and the money budgeted for the rest of the employee that were never hired shows up in their "reserves".

9/15/2016 09:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Just waiting for November said...

'Budget surplus' vs actual 'revenues less expenditures' sometimes are two different things. As Casual Viewer said, better wait until we see the CAFR, probably not until December.

9/15/2016 09:35:00 PM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

There is no "budget surplus" without a fully staffed CMPD
including the K-9, narcotics and gang units the council boys

9/17/2016 01:05:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

IF there truly is a surplus, I think all of it should be used to back-fill the reserve fund. That's hard-money that will be there to address other concerns (such as the pension liability, the self-insurance fund) when and if concerns about those issues rise to a critical level.

9/17/2016 09:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Casual Viewer said...

Jim and Steve seem to treat the city's finances like they did with their own finances. Spend, spend , spend, and if you get in trouble, declare bankruptcy. They cling to the belief that if the city goes bankrupt it will be absolved from paying pensions. This perspective affects the way they vote on using city funds - also, if there's publicity involved, it's okay to spend money.

9/18/2016 10:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

If you have debt, you don't have reserves until the debt is paid off. We are sadly in debt in many areas, and really 11 Million isn't even close to what it will take to cover the debt. Its campaign rhetoric.

9/18/2016 07:22:00 PM  

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