El Cerrito on the verge of bankruptcy but the City Council is putting off cuts until September.

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I get it. We are all at home trying to do our best and survive this crisis. The last thing people want to be thinking about is local politics. However, this national crisis has only exacerbated what was already a VERY BAD situation in El Cerrito. So action needs to be taken. El Cerrito faces bankruptcy, but council is planning on putting off any action until September

In October when the state auditor said El Cerrito was one of the most at-risk cities, El Cerrito had no financial reserves and no plans to remedy the situation.

Now that we are facing an imminent recession El Cerrito is at serious risk of going bankrupt. The council still has no meaningful plans and has taken no significant actions to improve the city’s financial condition. At the most recent meeting on March 25, 2020, there was talk about putting off any budget actions until September. Which is a quarter into the next fiscal year. Further delays only worsen the crisis.

A bankruptcy may mean that staff will lose pension benefits.

Forced reductions in public safety could mean higher insurance costs for homeowners.

Bankruptcy will surely make things much worse for many El Cerrito community members.

On Tuesday, April 7 the council will begin to discuss the budget but is not planning on taking any action for many, many months. Maybe not until September.

You can submit testimony by emailing the city clerk, at cityclerk@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us. Your email must contain in the subject line public comments –not on the agenda or public comments –agenda item #. The City Clerk will read your comments at the meeting. Please try to keep your message below two minutes. It is important that the comments be read into the record rather than just emailing the council. This creates a record of community concern.

You can also comment via voicemail at (510) 306-2558. The caller must start the message by stating public comments –not on the agenda or public comments –agenda item #followed by their name and place of residence, followed by their comments

A sample message might be:

The state auditor, the independent auditor, and the Standard and Poor’s financial analyst all agree that El Cerrito is in financial peril. It is imperative that the city act now to reduce costs. With City Hall closed, now is the right time to reduce staff size and require the remaining staff to take pay cuts down to the levels of their 2016 compensation. Employee compensation has increased by $4 million per year over the past two years. If staff will not willingly share in the burden caused by poor council decisions for many, many years, then additional people will need to be laid off. Waiting until September as suggested by the Mayor will only deepen the crisis. It is time to act!

Resources

Link to most recent meeting on March 25th is below.

For the April 7th meeting members of the public will not be able to participate directly through the teleconference platform but can watch or listen to the meeting in the following ways:

Cable T.V.
Broadcast on KCRT Channel 8 or AT&T Uverse Channel 992.

Radio Broadcast on FM 88.1 Or 97.73.

Livestream Online At www.el-cerrito.org/CouncilMeetingMaterials

3 thoughts on “El Cerrito on the verge of bankruptcy but the City Council is putting off cuts until September.

  1. There is no way to do much with the El Cerrito budget until fall. COVID-19 takes priority. I know the City Council and city management take the budget shortfall seriously and they have been busy working on solutions. However, the virus just blew all financial projections and city revenues off the charts. At this point, it is too early to tell just how much money COVID-19 will cost the city. By September there could be better information and, in addition, possible federal and state disaster aid.

    It isn’t even possible to conduct city business in a normal fashion. Council members, management and staff must work by conference call; public comment is limited due to the extreme circumstances that exist now. City Hall is closed and employees there work from home. Not the most efficient way to conduct the public’s business, but absolutely necessary while maintaining the required social distance.

    New directives keep on coming out from higher authority. Kind of difficult to plan ahead, let alone deal with a budget.

    Like

    1. John I appreciate you taking the time to comment even if I disagree with your perspective. Staff are still getting paid and the budget gap is expanding every day no action is taken. In fact, it is the lack of urgency that got us to this point. FAB has been pushing for increased reserves for things such as this for quite a while but staff and council prioritized other spending. But thank you for adding a different perspective.

      Like

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