This meeting was a study session on the budget. The packet can be found here. The Finance Director presented all the worksheets and then stated that the city needed to make cuts between the $664,000 end of the year predicted earlier versus the $303,000 currently predicted.
First Councilperson Rudnick brought up the idea of cutting more than that. She suggested a list of a million dollars of cuts be brought to the next meeting. The Mayor then did a great job of echoing that and also stating that everything, including public safety, needed to be on the table. He stated several times all these cuts cannot be just from Recreation. Councilperson Motoyoma also stated that the current cushion of 300k is not enough and that further cuts needed to be made.
This interaction was very different from past interactions around the budget which I was pleased to see.
Councilperson Quinto brought up the issue of Cal-Pers and staff stated that there would be a presentation on that issue in March. He said that cuts were not aggressive enough and that we needed to improve things for the next Tran application.
When public comment ended the Mayor said that the staff needed to come back with cuts more than the 300k the City Manager wanted to cut. Councilperson Motoyama made a motion directing the City Manager to bring back two options in cuts for the next meeting. The first option would be the 300k in cuts that the City Manager recommended. The second option would be 1 million in cuts, covering every department and she added that she wants the city to address the equity impact in the recommendation for those cuts.
I am vey pleased that the council directed the City Manager to come back with cuts that fit the level of crisis. I love that Councilperson Motoyama agreed with a public comment about equity and requested that equity impact be part of the report. This is the most active and engaged I have seen the council be on this issue. It is also one of the few times I have seen the council not just rubber-stamp a recommendation from the city manager but instead challenge her to do more.
I have to say that this is the most optimistic I have been about this council since this crisis began. It finally feels like they are engaged and also listening to the community. It is a great first step. I hope that they can then have the courage to make the necessary cuts. We all fully recognize that they will be painful.