The City takes some budget actions

At the City Council meeting on May 5, 2020 some budget announcements were made. The link to the video is below and the budget discussion started 4 hours in.

The city announced furloughs for management and SEIU staff. That is 45 SEUI staff and 25 Management staff. They will be furloughed one day every two week pay period after the noticing period. Essentially it looks like this will manifest as now having every Friday closed at city hall as this is the easiest way to manage the time. This furlough will last at least through the end of the calendar year and is projected to most likely go on through the end of the next fiscal year (June 2021) Management staff will also now pay in 1% of the employer part of their CAL-PERS contribution. The City Management will take the same furlough and pay in 3% of her CAL-PERS contribution.

I have copied the some of the slides from the presentation and put them below.

This cost savings is if the furloughs go on through the end of the next fiscal year (June 2021)
There have now been 4 million dollars in budget cuts for next year

I am happy to see the council and staff begin to take the aggressive actions needed to address this situation. Much more needs to be done and they do seem to be accepting that. I still have a few areas of concern

  1. We will be ending this fiscal year with a deficit in the 2 million dollar range (subject to change) While these cuts are working on balancing the budget for 20/21 nothing is being done to reduce that deficit as of yet. The Mayor said that not addressing it would make getting the TRAN loan more challenging next year. Without these TRAN loans the city cannot pay it’s bills.
  2. The Finance Manager is not making projects of a recession which seems pretty well guaranteed now. The Mayor did bring up the need for better forecasting using different models. The city has engaged Management Partners to further assist in that. While I have been critical of use of consultations Management Partners does seem to have expertise in this area.
  3. CAL-PERS costs will rise. The Mayor did also say in his remarks that this needed to be factored into projections in the future. This could leave a HUGE hole in the budget.
  4. The Fire Department overtime budget still has not been publicly addressed. The Fire Chief spoke at the meeting and was not enthusiastic about charging for EMT services for those with insurance. Councilperson Quinto did push hard on this issue so hopefully that will move forward. Most local cities do this.
  5. The data accessible to the public is still confusing in many cases and many of us are spending hours looking for and analyzing data. Councilperson Fadelli pushed for this information to be more accessible and clearer so I am hoping that they will continue to request this. We should not have to be posting these blog posts. The information should be readily available on the city’s website.
  6. We still need more information on the TRAN loan. The City Manager and Finance Director stated that they would be meeting with their financial advisor on May 6th and would report back next council meeting. We need specifics on this loan including the cost of the loan this time and how that compares to last year.

The video of the meeting is found here.

https://elcerritoca.civicclerk.com/Web/Player.aspx?id=302