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— During the December 17 Encinitas City Council meeting, the city’s state lobbyist, Jonathan Clay from the Carpi and Clay government relations firm, gave a year-end legislative summary to the council.

“The governor, because of the budget, ended up vetoing a lot of bills that typically would have gone through the legislative process. In terms of the budget, there was no good news coming from Sacramento this year. It was definitely not a pretty process. Normally, a budget is passed, per the constitution...July 1st is the deadline, and it was late September this year before we finally got a budget approved. Roughly three weeks after they got the budget approved, they called a special session to try and redo the budget because at that point they were already $5 billion in the hole. As of today, the state stopped funding for a variety of infrastructure projects, to the tune of about $600 billion dollars.”

For local governments, however, the bad news could have been much worse, said Clay. Many people in local government were expecting the governor to divert some property-tax revenues that would usually go straight to local municipalities.

The biggest hit to local government, according to Clay, came from the $350 million cutback to local redevelopment agencies, which he said might balloon to $400 million by the time the special legislative session is over. Other cuts that might come from the special session: $30 million in booking fees (money returned to cities for fees paid to the county to book suspects into county jails), and about $250 million from the COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) program.

As for 2009, Clay gave his prognosis to the five Encinitas councilmembers: “Ultimately, at the end of the day, we don’t see any fundamental change to make things better. The partisan divide has gotten pretty large, and we don’t see a lot of productive things coming out of Sacramento. The problem we’ve had with this budget process is it’s rumor, innuendo; it’s us dumpster diving, looking for information. Unfortunately, that’s how they’re running the budget process.”

Watch Clay’s presentation, full of bad news, by clicking on archived meetings and selecting the December 17 City Council meeting, at ci.encinitas.ca.us.

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Leucadian Dec. 20, 2008 @ 8:35 p.m.

I'm really glad Encinitas City Council had decided to go ahead with a RDA, some years back, when some on Council, including Dan Dalager and Jerome Stocks, were really pushing it with respect to Leucadia.

I feel Encinitas continues to hire too many high priced and usually out of area contractors and consultants, and continues to give staff yearly wage increase, and more lucrative pension benefits, every year for four years at a time, currently, when the economy is now in a very shaky position, to say the least.

As more people begin to retire with fat pensions from within our city government, we will begin to see some of the same problems San Diego is having. In Encinitas, we also do have to pay for trash, and other fees for which people who live in San Diego are not charged, or are not charged as much. For example, one can look to also steadily increasing sewer fees in the Encinitas and Cardiff Sanitary Divisions, where the average residence in ESD pays over $500 per year on our property tax bill, and the average in CSD is over $700 per year. These are going up, on average, over 3.4% per year through 2012!

Leucadia Sanitary District residences, which, fortunately for them, do not have our City Council as its board of directors, pays a flat fee of only $250 per year, which fee was only recently raised to that level. Our numbers are truly "out of whack" and discriminate against retirees and those on a fixed income.

If public utilities such as SDG&E and the phone companies must give lifeline allowances, so should sanitary districts be required to do so. Also, the City should have some kind of fee waiver or fee reduction for low income residents who want to appeal a city decision. The fee to appeal was raised 150%, as was the fee to set up a low income affordable housing unit through official channels, in Encinitas.

Our council could and should do better. We feel that Jerome Stocks and James Bond were reelected because of voter apathy, lack of information, misinformation, and the fact that a bare plurality was required when three are elected in a field with ten candidates on the official ballot. We hope that we can finally enact term limits and that candidates could be vetted in the primaries, narrowing the field. Also, the sanitary divisions and San Dieguito Water District should not have City Council Members as their boards of directors.

Currently we have very few checks and balances, and no separation of powers.

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