A lot went on at the last meeting Council Meeting. We expect that there will be extensive public comment at the next meeting because people are upset about the cuts to the library hours.
We would encourage the following talking points also.
1. Council members should reject the budget because it does not meet the criteria the Financial Advisory Board set for the budget to have a one million dollar surplus. This was set as a way of building our reserves back. In addition, this is a budget that states that senior services are cut back to the basics. However, there has been no disclosure of what those cuts are. How can the council vote on a budget without having specificity on cuts? This has not been a transparent process at all. Cuts are made and then buried in a long document. Or surprise cuts happen like with the library cuts. Council members and the community need to know what cuts are on the table and what they impact these cuts will have on the community.
2. We support the proposal Mayor Fadelli made last meeting for a percentage of the Transfer Tax being dedicated for reserves. This is the type of fiscal responsibility we need to get off the State Auditors list of cities on the brink of bankruptcy. We applaud Mayor Fadelli for making the motion. We would like to see this brought back again and brought to a vote. Last time the City Manager wore them down into a simple agreement.
3. Of course there are also issues with the library hours being cut. While it appears that they legally met the Brown Act requirements they violated the spirit of the law. Which is that deals are not made behind the scenes and that there is public notice to the community of issues that are being voted on. While one cannot prove behind-the-scenes maneuvers it looked like some council members came to the meeting ready to follow the City Managers’ lead on this issue and other council members seemed surprised the vote came up. If council members were surprised how would the community know to attend the meeting?
4. Finally there was a 5-year projection included in the last meetings packet. You can see this in the screenshot below. The green line is the proposed budget for 21/22 and you can see an 11% reserve. This is happening because of the Federal bailout money. Each column afterward is a year further so the reserve is 8.8% in 22/23 and 6.3% in 23/24 3.5% in 24/25 and finally 2.8% in 25/26. So without any structural cuts, we only meet our reserve goal next year. While Councilperson Motoyama brought up the 5-year projection last meeting it was not discussed. As I have said before the City continues to kick the can. This 5-year projection is not allowing for the PERS retirement rate changing which could make these numbers way way worse. We need a budget that addresses this. Another reason this budget should not be voted for.