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Cuts, Layoffs Necessary To Balance City Budget

The Pacifica City Council last night approved a budget that would make cuts to every city department.

Budget shortfalls were again the primary topic of discussion in Pacifica Council chambers Monday evening. 

The proposed General Fund operating budget for fiscal year 2011-12 is $26,302,159, a decrease of $2,089,016 from the operating budget in fiscal year 2010-11. 

In order to form a balanced budget for fiscal year 2011-12, council approved the use of $547,738 in operating reserves to bridge the gap caused by ongoing structural deficit and a loss of revenue. 

Much of the revenue deficit stems from loss of the fire suppression tax that did not pass Pacifica voter approval, a tax which was expected to generate approximately $1.3 million dollars on an annual basis for the city. 

Due to the failed tax measure, city council directed staff to cut $1.5 million dollars from the fiscal year 2011-12 budget, which resulted in the current budget proposal. 

All city departments are impacted by the cuts made to reach a balanced budget.

Non-departmental expenditures were also impacted; The televising of Parks, Beaches and Recreation meetings (at a cost-savings of $5,416) was eliminated, support of the farmers' market was reduced by $2,000, and the funds for Community Clean Up operations ($3,000) were moved to the wastewater fund.   

Department restructuring resulted in the elimination of 19.7 city positions including the city attorney, both full-time to part-time positions, and eliminating vacant positions. 

The budget was approved by council in a 3 to 1 vote, with Councilmember Pete De Jarnatt dissenting.

"I will not be voting for this budget because I do not agree with many things," said De Jarnatt. "I don't think its going to save us any money" to contract city attorney services, he said. 

De Jarnatt also noted that cuts to departments are coming before cuts are made to the funding of other entities, including the public library system and . 

"The non-departmental entities aren't being cut at all. How is that fair? It's not," said De Jarnatt. 

Councilmembers called the Pacifica Resource Center a necessary "safety net that people need in these down times" and opposed funding cuts to . 

A total of 5.5 city employees are to be laid-off. A number of other layoffs will result in reassignments, demotions, or cuts from full to part-time positions.

Councilmember Digre acknowledged that the cuts to each city department does have an adverse effect on employee moral.

"I have grave concerns about the cuts we are making today," said Digre. "We have prized employees."

Mayor Mary Ann Nihart proposed that it may be necessary to take $10,ooo from a funding commitment to the Pacifica Resource Center in the future. 

"Without increased revenue, this is the first of a few hard years ahead, maybe more," said Nihart. 

Mary Ann Nihart June 20, 2011 at 05:05 AM
Todd - please note the budget demonstrates what I have been trying to tell you, we have taken significant large cuts in police and fire. 6 of 9 contracts have already been decreased more than than what you suggest. Cuts in all other contracts are being negotiated as well. and we still needed to cut more next year. Our city manager was the lowest paid in the county and now only slightly lower is Half Moon Bay's. He has taken several voluntary decreases amounting to cuts larger than you suggest. Mr. Rhodes makes more than $100,000 less than the City Manager of Daly City. When our staff make so much less than surrounding cities, it makes it very hard to share services which is part of what happened in the North County Fire administrative merge. If our employees were to take the cuts you suggest on top of the cuts they have already taken, some would lose 25% in one year. Please try to look at current numbers and not those from more than two years ago. If we had not taken these cuts, the damage would be much much worse. Personally, I hate laying off staff who have worked so hard for our city. I have been there and it is never good.
Mary Ann Nihart June 20, 2011 at 05:08 AM
You are welcome. IRS accounting requirements can be a bit crazy making. I am happy to share what I have learned.
Mary Ann Nihart June 20, 2011 at 05:14 AM
My current fear is what elected officials in Sacramento are calling realignment, passing services and costs previously paid by the state to the counties and the cities. They say there will be money with it, but one does not always know how much. The Kennedy Supreme Court decision will move 40 to 60,000 state prison inmates back to the communities. These are nonviolent offenders,but they still require monitoring and other services. The next year will most likely prove even more challenging financially for our City.
Todd Bray June 20, 2011 at 09:17 AM
Mary Ann, I empathizes with you I really do. My notes here are not demands on you or council in any way shape or form but appeals to senior staff, department heads fire and police. And I share your concern that the state has not yet finished with counties or municipalities by a long shot. All these various employee's know how small the revenue pie is and how much it is shrinking. Regardless of salaries made in neighboring communities our revenue pie is only so big which to me begs the question: at what point does it become... well negligent, perhaps even criminal... for our folks not to reduce their compensation to fit the revenue stream rather than lay off fellow employees to save their paychecks at the cost of reduced services? My concern is a new recession caused by the up coming public sector lay-offs nationwide. Revenues are down and it would be nice to see some empathy coming from our public sector toward us and more importantly to each other.
shell game June 20, 2011 at 05:59 PM
Right, I've got it now, cafeteria cash is handed out to those employees with more advantages. (spouses with health benefits) So the more advantages you have, the more money you make. The public will welcome the end of this corrupt system.
Mary Ann Nihart June 20, 2011 at 09:43 PM
Interesting take, but untrue. There is no corruption simply an old desire to have all employees compensated equally. All employees receive the same amount of money to use toward benefits which in our example that is $14,000. They can use it toward health insurance and deductible or in home care for their mother depending on their needs. The practice was started so that cities and counties could be more predictable about their benefits rather than fluctuating widely as people moved from their spouses insurance to their own and back. Plus, employees would be treated equally. As I have been told, the thinking was that it is unfair for one employee to receive benefits and another other to not receive them simply because one was married with a spouse. I have never before worked in a system like this one but the concepts seem equitable. So, it is not corrupt, just not affordable for our budget today.
Scotty June 20, 2011 at 09:58 PM
Todd, as I've pointed out numerous times, your fairy land where neighboring salaries do not matter to employees is just that. Please gain a minimal understanding of the most basic economic fundamentals before you repeat your tired and totally nonsensical comments on this subject again.
PTP June 21, 2011 at 12:48 AM
Snotty Scotty's response would be comical if it weren't so inherently destructive to the economies of ALL municipalities who ignorantly choose to listen. SS speaks like a true public sector employee/union rep that selfishly benefits from ever escalating salaries as he artificially pits community against community under the pretense of competing to retain "valued" employees. SS conveniently ignores modern day economic realities as he spews his hackneyed scare tactics, failing to acknowledge that most public sector employees are grateful to have any job at all right now as all levels of government are forced into significant cost containment including personnel downsizing. SS ignores this inconvenient truth by perpetrating his delusional myth that there is a glut of high paying open civil service positions throughout SMC and if we don't drive ourselves further into bankruptcy we will lose all of our "valued" employees and the city will go under. SS seems oblivious to the fact that thousands of highly skilled unemployed individuals from both the private and public sectors would kill for ANY job in this city complete with its inflated salary (thanks to the likes of SS) and Cadillac benefits package.
Todd Bray June 21, 2011 at 02:19 AM
That's all I'm trying to convey Mary Ann,
Mary Ann Nihart June 21, 2011 at 04:23 AM
Todd, I know what you have been trying to convey and I have previously acknowledged it. However, I have not received the same in kind. You are asking for cuts on top of cuts based on outdated data. You have been talking about cuts as if there have been none when there have been a lot and we still needed to cut positions. I repeat, if we asked for your cuts on top of cuts already taken, some people would lose over 20% in one year. Never fear, unless there is an unforeseen miracle there will be more cuts next year. Besides, I thought you were not talking directly to me.?? :)
Scotty June 21, 2011 at 06:40 PM
That is the case for the worst performing public sector employees. For the best public sector employees (which will be eliminated in Pacifica under you and Todd's myopic plan), please read the previously referenced article about SF cherry-picking cops from Pacifica (and other municipalities).
Todd Bray June 21, 2011 at 06:56 PM
Mary Ann, I'm sorry, truly sorry if I've hurt your feelings. My suggestions are/have always been to our public folks not you or the other council folks. 20% to 40% cuts are what we the regular work force have been coping with so I really have no reason not to expect the same of publicly funded employees given that revenues are down. Better 20% to 40% cuts than 100% cuts but it's for them to decide at this point. Contracts can be opened, unions can at the discretion of members re-negotiate, things can adjust. However it's on our senior staff, department heads, fire and police to save each other and their crews by taking these cuts voluntarily. Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a lost miracle wandering around out there somewhere looking for a home. Perhaps we can build a miracle snare trap. Hey, maybe the RAND MCNALLY thing is the miracle snare trap!
PTP June 22, 2011 at 01:12 AM
It’s known as living within your means my dear Snotty Scotty. Try it sometime. Since the voters of Pacifica have chosen a life of poverty for Pacifica - certainly their right - they simply cannot expect/afford Ferrari services and personnel with their Tata Nano budget/revenues. Simple math, SS. Corporate America has somehow managed not to succumb to SS’s “valued employee” scare tactics. This dates back to the 1980s when corporate officials and shareholders opted for the lower cost, less experienced, new college grad employee who was willing to work twice as hard, twice as many hours and at half the compensation as their expensive, burned-out predecessor. This new breed of employee was resourceful enough to solve the problems that previously only the expensive "guru" type employees were believed to be capable of solving. And on those occasions when the “guru” was needed, they brought the “guru” in on a time and materials contract basis. In spite of the self-serving “sky is falling” mentality of the SS’s of the world, this new generation of employee, as exemplified by the “Microserfs” and “Intelserfs”, continue to make their companies profitable. Municipalities looking for some economic relief can learn a valuable lesson from private sector success stories such as these.
Mary Ann Nihart June 22, 2011 at 03:32 AM
Todd - sorry my feelings have never been hurt, nor has that been the issue, but thanks for caring. :)
shell game June 22, 2011 at 03:44 AM
" Since the voters of Pacifica have chosen a life of poverty for Pacifica - certainly their right - they simply cannot expect/afford Ferrari services and personnel with their Tata Nano budget/revenues." No, the voters didn't negotiate and sign any of the public employee contracts, our elected leaders did. That the voters rebel at the waste and mismanagement is no surprise. But there are surprises in store for you; hope you're sitting down.
PTP June 22, 2011 at 04:16 PM
"No, the voters didn't negotiate and sign any of the public employee contracts, our elected leaders did." Shell Game, you don't seem to see the pea even though it's the elephant in the room. Last time I looked, we lived in a republic. We elect representatives who speak for us. That is the case with our City Council. If you don't like the contracts they are signing, quit re-electing them. Also, stop reading the fish wrap Trib and start reading Pogo. You have met the enemy and he is you.
Marty Mendoza June 23, 2011 at 03:33 AM
Todd I believe your wife is either a county or State employee.. pot=kettle=black You took money from the city to design art work at the Old Waste Water treatment plant that you will never address. You where forced to quit the Planning Commission for making crude and sexual harassing comments about high school girls. From a very credible person, you claimed to have talked Swenson, to not deal with the city in regards to the Rockaway Quarry. Quite Hyprocitical Mr Bray.
Eddie Shore June 23, 2011 at 04:36 AM
it does seem odd that someone who has worked so hard to keep revenue out of Pacifica is now asking police, fire, and senior staff to give up part of their salaries due to the dire economic times. All while subsidized by his wife's salary from the taxpayers of San Jose.
shell game June 23, 2011 at 05:01 AM
" If you don't like the contracts they are signing, quit re-electing them. Also, stop reading the fish wrap Trib and start reading Pogo. You have met the enemy and he is you." I don't know what you mean, we got one new councilmember last time, and the Trib is a bad source of information, but you fail to identify another source. Where do you get your information? And are you sitting down for the coming bombshells? Also, I have to laugh at the criticisms of Mister Bray. Have any of you people thought of any go@@am solutions? I thought not. Try thinking before casting stones.
Scotty June 23, 2011 at 09:04 PM
Why is it that the only way that Todd Bray and PTP's proposals work is when you add ridiculous contingencies like "...regardless of salaries made in neighboring communities..."? Could it be because the public employees have no more interest in subsidizing the city through some kind altruistic streak than I do as a taxpayer?
PTP June 23, 2011 at 11:15 PM
Snotty Scotty will never get it 'cause he just ain't right in the head. But the taxpayers, fortunately, have caught on to the old public union boss scheme (enter SS) of pitting one city against another in order to justify the never ending salary and total compensation increases. Oh wait. I already made that point. Well, then how about the fact that in this downturn economy it is a buyer's market for public sector jobs? Made that point too? Then does anyone know WTF SS is talking about?
Rocky June 23, 2011 at 11:20 PM
I know what Scotty is talking about. And BTW, gratuitous personal attacks only serve to discredit the argument of the person making them.
shell game June 24, 2011 at 05:13 AM
"Why is it that the only way that Todd Bray and PTP's proposals work is when you add ridiculous contingencies like "...regardless of salaries made in neighboring communities..."? Because you don't see what's before your eyes. Revenue continues to go down; salaries, benefits, and pensions continue to go up. The collision takes place and choices have to be made. So far, the Pacifica city council has failed miserably to deal with the problem. Look for more downhill sledding.
Scotty June 24, 2011 at 09:24 AM
Everyone agrees that there's a massive problem. It's just that this idea that all public employees will join hands, sing "Kumbaya", and take another pay cut is not only unrealistic, but even worse, will result in a lower-performing workforce for reasons that I've explained ad nauseum. Sadly, I think that targeted headcount reductions are the only short-term solutions available to council. Longer term, they need to work on reducing pension commitments.
PTP June 24, 2011 at 03:12 PM
By all means, reduce the headcount. Let the crybaby, spoiled public employees who are left pick up the workload as we have had to in the private sector. They can leave if they don't like this new and improved workload (w/o overtime). Believe me, they have NO place to go. And, there are plenty, and I mean plenty, of qualified, highly skilled people out there who would kill for these plush city jobs. Outsourcing is another viable option which should be expanded beyond the role of the City Attorney and will provide the city with an exit strategy with respect to out of control employee benefit expenses. SS, you place way too much value in these city employees - so much so that it appears as self-serving. The ship will not sink. I repeat, IT WILL NOT SINK! It's a new day. A new paradigm. As I have already stated, the private sector has already been there, done that, and by and large remains solvent, competitive and god forbid, profitable.
Scotty June 24, 2011 at 10:19 PM
Your Fox News talking points are as tiresome as they are ridiculous. Todd Bray must be overjoyed to be in the same camp as a rabid tea bagger. Also, the next time you need their help, please tell a local cop or fireman that they're a "crybaby, spoiled public employee", big talker.
PTP June 24, 2011 at 10:46 PM
Snotty Scotty's Rules of Engagement 101: When you've got nothing, absolutely nothing, to contribute to the discusssion/debate, make sure you respond with any combination of the following ad hominem attacks: 1. tin foil hat wearing conspiracy theorist 2. Fox News watcher 3. Palin, Bush, Cheney, Rove voter/supporter 4. wingnut 5. If you don't like it, leave 6. juvenile 7. birther 8. Koo-koo and Krazy 9. Rabid tea-bagger Thanks, Snotty Scotty! I just won a bet with a friend that you would use at least two of the above in your latest response.
shell game June 25, 2011 at 04:12 AM
So here's a concrete example of the shell game: Pacifica police 2010-11 budget cut for dispatch: - $634,519 South City is taking over; here are the costs: 2011-12: $600,000 2012-13:$ 612,000 2013-14: $624,240 Now what do you think the average Pacifica police officer's position is worth? According to the S.M.Co.Times, more than $180,000. But what will happen when we are taken over by the county, at least for police services? Well, the average San Mateo County Sheriff's deputy's position is worth $209,000. So you can see, the "cuts" aren't cuts, and we have more "extend and pretend" mentality, as if we're going back to bubbleland. We aren't.
Todd Bray June 25, 2011 at 03:17 PM
PTP, Scotty is not a he, Scotty is a she. Let her go. she's just trying to show she cares.
Conrad Peterson June 25, 2011 at 05:02 PM
And Todd Bray is being patronizing.

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