The City Council has its next meeting on September 15, 2020, at 7 pm. Here is the link to the e-packet-the budget information starts on page 121.
This is a lot of information to digest. The City continues to not disseminate this information in a manner that is accessible to a resident that does not have an accounting degree.
A few things called out to me-The figure below is the operating expenses. To me, it doesn’t look like substantial cuts have been made. There are increases in supplies and a large increase in professional services. We have spent months hearing about cuts that are proposed but I am not seeing them below.
From the proposed 20/21 budget book
From the 16/17-18/19 budget book
If we look at these two charts we see that we are being told the Police are taking some big cuts but the percentage-wise that is not changing and the percentage of the budget the police is has increased. It also shows the Fire Department budget as a percentage of the budget has increased dramatically. We are watching our state burn so We all want an adequately funded Fire Department but one of the issues raised by the State Auditor was whether El Cerrito could afford to keep their fire department levels. I think it would help if the city could be more transparent as to why the percentage has risen so much. Is it the cost of living in a state filled with fires or are there ways to make strategic cuts? Data is the only way to know. Perhaps El Cerrito needs to look at other sources of funding for the fire department. OES grants for disaster preparedness would be a great start.
Many recommendations have been discussed at the last few meetings but the lack of specificity still is alarming. What are the changes to the Fire Department and Police Department specifically? What administrative positions have been cut. We need more details on the 1.5 million in proposed cuts that they have been discussing in the last few meetings.
Please keep sending in your comments to the city clerk and or the council members. A budget has not yet been adopted and we need to continue to push for transparency and accountability.