City Council Meeting February 4, 2020

Last night there was a council meeting with the budget situation on the agenda. Here is the link to the video and packet.

Here are some observations from two of us who watched the meeting. It did appear to both of us that council is now taking this issue very very seriously which is a win for the community that have been pushing them to do so.

First off we were told that EC usually contracts with Pinole to stream video. The reason for the video fail on Saturday was staff tried to save money and do it themselves. The slides will be going up from the workshop on EC website soon. I will post them here when they are. They also say they will answer the written questions that were not answered on Saturday and post those.

Mark Rasiah the Finance Director had a powerpoint presentation. That powerpoint is found here.

They did budget projections out for 5 years. At this time the baseline estimates 581 k left 19/20 with a surplus also expected 20/21 and 21/22. The following years are all in the red. That is without any action by the council and also does not put anything into the reserve account.

There was a long discussion on Cal-Pers and how a drop in the discount rate would be devastating. Karen is going to a meeting soon and will hopefully know more about whether or not that will happen.

The finance director believes that if we had a 2 million reserve our bond rating would improve from the current terrible rating that doesn’t allow us to borrow money.

Rochelle said and Paul agreed that they did not know that the reserve was not being funded. Gabe also went on about this being hidden at a different point in the meeting. My question is who was suppose to be telling them this?

There are currently 184 positions in city. Mark stated every million dollars in cuts would equal about 10 position cuts.

There is a slide on some suggested potential cuts. See the slide below.

There was discussion on staffing and potential furloughs. Paul did reiterate that all things should be on the table.

Councilperson Quinto brought up high overtime rate for public safety. The budget for overtime (this is overtime we are paying not reimbursed is going to be about 1.2 million this year. He does not want want public safety funds cut. also brought up issue of firefighters doing vegetation management and that is important.

8 speakers spoke on this issue at almost 10pm! Yay for community involvement. Here are some of their thoughts.

Thanked council for the town hall meeting

No new taxes until fiscal responsibility

Consider layoffs

Need more transparency and leadership from council

Tough decisions need to be made

Support for not cutting public safety staff- this was a few people

A 10% reduction across the board

Consultants as a line item cut. why can’t staff do that work?

Parks and Rec potential cuts to anything not supported by its own funding this includes the senior center.

Charge for 911 calls via medical insurance

Create a community task force to work in economic development

We need to diversify tax base and look at expanding revenues

We need for oversight from council to staff

Don’t cut library hours or senior center

Back to the council speaking

The mayor asked the staff to come back with 2 million in cuts. Said they might not make them all but they wanted to see them.

Quinto talked about council doing stuff for economic development and things he has done. He would love to get a car dealership.

They talked about cancelling the 4th of July event. They start planning it now Councilperson Quinto was for Councilperson Pardue-Okimoto was against it. She talked about potential cuts like not having staff paid overtime at the events. and not having it for 2 days. She also said she would rather cut every other event than and keep this one. She wants staff to come back with numbers on all of them and entire council seemed to agree with that. Councilperson Fadelli and Mayor Lyman were open to letting 4th of July go. It was also suggested to maybe get some sponsorships.

Councilperson Quinto talked about bringing in non profits to support seniors rather than the city funding services. He says that is what SF does. He also was pretty angry about lack of economic development and said he had been working on the issue and not been supported by staff and that when he made contacts and they called the city calls were not returned.

A few other issues

Councilperson Quinto stated that the city would do whatever the state auditor recommended though there was not further discussion about this.

There was no talk of the unintended consequences of sharply cutting all of the amenities in the city. Will property values go down? Will businesses want to open up in such a downer environment?

There is a strong aversion to laying off staff and looking at any possible cuts in public safety both from public and council. There was no discussion on ways to perhaps cut the fat without cutting valued services.

The Mayor wants the agenda for next meeting to include possible cuts so that public is aware of them and can come speak out.

Council members challenged some of the Finance Directors assumptions, particularly around RFT and suggested being less optimistic.

This meeting was a study session and next meeting will be real talk of the cuts. People must show up! Everything is on the line here!

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