Things to know about the 20/21 budget

After my last post lamenting the lack of information from the city I tried one more time to get information from the Mayor and he too said just look at the budget book. It’s all there.

But it’s not. There is not a clear spelling out of the cuts made as shown here. Check out the budget book for yourselves. It is 250 pages I had to review again to try and flesh out the details of the below cuts. And why the City Clerk and Mayor both think that referring people to a 250-page document is transparent and accessible government is beyond me. But I can only fight city hall so much.

So what else should you know about the budget? (in no particular order)

  1. There were no substantive cuts in the police budget. It says above there is a 595K savings. But if you look at the budget book it says the jobs cut are the two school resource officers cut by the Board of ED (and they paid for one of them) and a vacant admin position. And any further savings is by keeping unfilled positions unfilled. (page 99).

Here is the current expenditures (page 10) Notice the police at 24.3% of the budget

Here is the prior year break down of expenditures with the police at 24.7% of the total budget. Not much difference.

2. The Finance Department considers getting a pay-day loan to keep the city afloat as one of their top achievements. (page 86)

3. The residents of El Cerrito were greatly deceived about the revenue for Measure D. At the time this was coming up I was telling anyone who would listen (and it was not many and before this blog) that Measure D was promising a lot of wonderful things but the measure did not include the same language as the tax it extended and allows a great deal of money to go to maintenance. And below we see half a million dollars going from construction to maintenance. So we can look at it as half full-at least the parks will be maintained or half empty as we were promised so many things and will get none of them from this tax. (page 56). I need to investigate more but it seems like everything from Measure H is going to maintenance now.

4. The revenue projections for the year seem really broken. Here is what was adopted. (page 27)

Here is the July-September Revenue report given at an October meeting. (page 45). So we would expect to be at about 25% of revenue expectations thru the first quarter of the year. Except for property taxes because of the timing of the receipt of those. You will notice in this chart below that the 20/21 budget has a projected INCREASE in sales taxes from 19/20. Did someone not tell the Finance Director we are in a recession and still mostly sheltering in place?

This one is revenue projections for the year. They have not made realistic projections at all. Especially in regards to sales tax which is one of our top revenue sources after property taxes. And you can see all the red at the bottom as far as what our cash flow looks like during the year even with these unrealistic expectations.

I am sure there is much more wrong in there but these are the things that came to me immediately when reviewing the budget book. Feel free to email me at eccfrg@gmail.com if you have other things you think I should take a look at.

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