Blogging Bayport Alameda

August 11, 2011

A little more conversation

Filed under: Alameda, City Council — Tags: , , , — Lauren Do @ 6:03 am

I have been reading the back and forth in this comment thread with interest starting around number 39.  Notwithstanding some of the unnecessary snarky digs I think some of the issues are worthy of addressing.   While I think there was a lot of good work that was done around the Fiscal Sustainability Committee and that the effort should not be diminished, it did not provide a “roadmap” of suggestions on how best to move forward.   It is definitely a good starting point, but as suggested by Kate Quick, the conversation and discussion shouldn’t just stop there because the FSC report in and of itself did not suggest how specifically to solve the budget problems that face Alameda, and practically every other city out there as well.

Is the solution as simple as “job cuts or pay cuts,” I believe the answer is more nuanced than that, although those would be important tools, but certainly neither will be sufficient to repair systemic problems such as the basic one of expenses outpacing the revenue the City actually takes in.

Most importantly one of the things that has not happened, even though it was mentioned in the FSC report, reiterated by the City Treasurer Kevin Kennedy during the first annual check in, and mentioned by then-Councilmember Marie Gilmore at the time was that the City and its various moving parts has never had a conversation about what the citizens as a whole consider are essential services for the City government to provide for its citizens.

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June 6, 2011

To the bone

Lost in the frenzy of last week’s news blitz was discussion about Alameda’s budget.   Last week the City Council had their first look of the budget cuts that would be necessary to keep the City afloat.   It turns out that the budget was even more grim than anticipated because someone forgot to account for certain expenditures for the 2011-12 budget year.

Controller Fred Marsh explains:

For those who choose not to watch, here’s the nutshell, the accounting tricks used previously to pad previous year budgets had been exhausted for 2011-12 and the budget needed to begin repaying bonds from the general fund and that was not included in the 2011-12 budget (that was an addition $827K unaccounted for).   For two special funds, Library and Fleet Maintenance, not enough was budgeted to these two operations and because they cannot carry a negative fund balance (aka reserve) City Staff needed to reallocate the difference so that they would not be in the negative, both these total another $800K+.

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April 28, 2011

Dig a little deeper

Did anyone notice that the salary list compiled by City Treasurer Kevin Kennedy included compensation for elected officials as well?  No?   Yeah, me either.    I think once people got into normal salary range most people just stopped looking.

It wasn’t until a commenter on The Island mentioned the Council pay as listed in the new Bay Area News Group database.   Of course, there was also this story which mentioned that Medical/Dental/Vision benefits are a huge perk for part-time elected officials like ours.  Highlights:

Government compensation data acquired by the Bay Area News Group, which includes this newspaper, show that hundreds of part-time elected officials — and in many cases family members — received full-time health care benefits in 2010 courtesy of taxpayers, costing many cash-strapped agencies tens of thousands of dollars.

According to an annual survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, one in four private employers offers health benefits to part-time employees. But in local government, it’s a different story.

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April 11, 2011

Anything you can do I can do better

As I mentioned on Friday, I was out for most of last week when all the interesting stuff went down. What being away without a reliable internet connection actually did was inoculate me from the public pissing match waged via editorial letters. Reading all the documents at once and then watching the additional comments from the public at the last City Council meeting made me realize that everyone needs to take a step back, stop posturing, start listening, and talk to each other instead of at each other.

The first volley was made by Mayor Marie Gilmore, actually, let me back that up a bit. I think the first signs that this was going to be a clusterfuck of the first order was when the City Council response to the presentation by Acting City Manager Lisa Goldman and Controller Fred Marsh was characterized as:

Council members first offered stunned silence and then little more, saying only that they want core services protected and that they want community guidance on what those are.

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