Still upset over last week’s decision to include car allowances for top-level management into their base pay and looking for new ways the city can save money, despite already passing a balanced budget, Chula Vista councilmember John McCann brought forward additional budget reforms to the Tuesday, June 16 city council meeting.
Those reforms, which McCann estimates amount to more than $2.5 million in savings, aimed at cutting the mayor and council’s salaries by ten percent, having the mayor and council to contribute to their own retirement package, and eliminating funding for travel.
“I know we had a lively debate on the car allowances last meeting,” said McCann from the dais before urging audience members to support his new reforms. “When you look at the reality of the financial crisis and you look at the realities of what we’ve asked some of our lower-level employees to do…I think we have to look at how to do things better…”
“Jerry Sanders, the mayor of San Diego, the way they helped balance their budget is he asked everybody, not just the managers, but everybody to take a six percent salary reduction,” said McCann before presenting his motion. “I have already taken a ten percent pay cut. I will not take a car allowance and any type of travel that I need to do, I’m going to pay for it myself.”
After the introduction, McCann moved to cut his colleagues salaries, eliminate funding for travel, and force his colleagues to pay into their own retirement fund.
“A motion by Mr. McCann regarding items a, b, and c,” mayor Cheryl Cox called out.
The council was silent.
“Motion dies for a lack of a second,” said Cox.
After the motion failed, councilmember Rudy Ramirez commented on McCann’s efforts. “We’re having this discussion, after having passed a balanced budget last week, after having gone through three months of community dialogue, council meetings. And here, not just at the eleventh hour, but after the fact we continue to have conversations about this. We’ve made those cuts. We’ve cut twenty million dollars from the budget. Four of us have done that and it’s been difficult to get Mr. McCann to come along to make those hard decisions…”
“Finally, there really is no integrity in proposing cuts that you’re not willing to make yourself. The fact remains that since Mr. McCann has been in office he’s been taking pay raises every year, year after year, and so now, for the sake of this meeting, he brings a proposal to make some cuts that I’ve made way back when we knew there was a crisis.”
Ramirez continued. “With regard to car allowances, when we became aware that we were in a serious financial crisis, over a year ago, I took my car allowance out. I didn’t call a big meeting. I didn’t have the cameras rolling. I just did it because it was the right thing to do. And Mr. McCann, from what I can tell, he had to meet with the editorial board for the local newspaper, for the sake of the publicity.”
Councilmember McCann responded to Ramirez’ comments. “We can have all the hyperbole and the lip service and everything. I’ve taken a ten percent pay cut. I haven’t taken my car allowance. I haven’t taken my travel. But, it’s not about me, it’s about policy.”