I follow the budget pretty closely. I read the materials put online and try to translate them for the average resident who is interested but not able to dig through all the documents. I have been trying for months to get a detailed answer as to the budget cuts that have been made thus far. Not the chart below which has been repeatedly put into the packets but an exact description of what positions were cut and when and what that savings was. I know in the last packet there were many letters trying to save the job of a swim center staff person. I want to know what his job was and when it was cut and how much it saved the city. Same with the Assistant to the City Manager because I believe that job is not cut until January 1, 2021.
What restructuring was done at the Fire Department? Same with the police because we are not seeing any real drop in the police budget. It appears it might be unfilled positions cut. If the position was never filled is it really a budget cut? The funding for the landscape services-what was cut and what was moved to Measure H. This should be readily available information. I have requested it numerous times both through some council members and more recently through the city clerk. The city clerk referred me to the budget book with no citations of pages and I was unable to find anything with any more specificity than the below chart.
Mayor Lyman recently responded to a resident question by saying there were still cuts proposed in June on the table. Cuts on the table that haven’t been made?? I requested more information on that and was directed to this presentation by Management Partners. This presentation had many cuts in it but as far as I could tell they were never discussed in depth. One of the cuts was the elimination of Fire Station 72 and I know if that was ever discussed there would have been a big public outcry.
I went back and reviewed these strategies. Some of them have happened like the elimination of passport services and the library hours were decided not to be cut. Most of them are unclear as to whether they have happened or not. What was very interesting is this nice slide on the assumptions used for their forecast. This is something we have been begging the council to ask for from the Finance Director for his projections. These forecast assumptions seem reasonable given circumstances (and they were made several months ago). There was also an additional slide talking about the need to take action NOW!
What was the point of hiring these consultants and getting their recommendations and projections and then ignoring them?
I also requested records to see what cuts were being put into the future budget projections. I was told that there were no records in regards to that. So we continue to not know things like if the furloughs were carried over into future budget years?
The city’s refusal to be transparent has been an issue since long before this crisis. The only way they will be transparent is if we the residents push them to do so. These questions are not brain surgery. The information is readily available from the City Manager. So why are they refusing to give that information out?
Again, please write your council members and tell them to get this information out there. Please remember that the longer it takes for an action to happen the more severe the actions are taken will be.