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The Butcher's Block

"Around 2005 we found out that our checkbook wasn't looking like we needed it to. It's fair to say that this budget year is particularly treacherous," said Chris Zapata, city manager for National City, at the opening of the August 10 special budget meeting.

The purpose of the meeting was to try and fill the budget gap by cutting the library department, recreation department, and the city's senior centers.

The gaping hole that is the city's structural deficit continues to grow despite prior reductions to service and skimming dozens of top-level management positions. During fiscal year 2009-2010, National City had to dip into the reserves and find other funding to balance a $3.3 million shortfall. The shortfall is expected for the next three years. According to Zapata, city revenues are back to 2004 levels, despite the 1 percent city sales-tax increase passed in 2006.

The city's library department was first on the butcher's block. Staff presented the mayor and city councilmembers with five options, ranging from doing nothing and keeping the library open seven days a week, to closing the library doors three days a week.

In addition to reducing hours at the library, the council also deliberated on proposals to slash the neighborhood council program, reduce hours at recreation centers and the Kimball Senior Center, and to put a tarp on the community pool for the winter.

"Nobody here predicted this except maybe the guy standing on the corner with a clapboard saying that the world was going to end," said Mayor Ron Morrison during council deliberation.

By the end of the night, the city council managed to trim $270,000 of fat from the budget, $130,000 short of their goal. They did so by reducing library hours by 12 hours a week, which saved the city approximately $140,000 a year, eliminating one full-time position on the neighborhood council program, closing recreation centers one hour earlier each day, shuttering the Kimball Senior Center on Fridays, and shutting down the pool on Sundays.

Regarding additional cuts to city services, Zapata said, "We have to put our harnesses back on."

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"All the neighbors came out and danced in the streets"

"Around 2005 we found out that our checkbook wasn't looking like we needed it to. It's fair to say that this budget year is particularly treacherous," said Chris Zapata, city manager for National City, at the opening of the August 10 special budget meeting.

The purpose of the meeting was to try and fill the budget gap by cutting the library department, recreation department, and the city's senior centers.

The gaping hole that is the city's structural deficit continues to grow despite prior reductions to service and skimming dozens of top-level management positions. During fiscal year 2009-2010, National City had to dip into the reserves and find other funding to balance a $3.3 million shortfall. The shortfall is expected for the next three years. According to Zapata, city revenues are back to 2004 levels, despite the 1 percent city sales-tax increase passed in 2006.

The city's library department was first on the butcher's block. Staff presented the mayor and city councilmembers with five options, ranging from doing nothing and keeping the library open seven days a week, to closing the library doors three days a week.

In addition to reducing hours at the library, the council also deliberated on proposals to slash the neighborhood council program, reduce hours at recreation centers and the Kimball Senior Center, and to put a tarp on the community pool for the winter.

"Nobody here predicted this except maybe the guy standing on the corner with a clapboard saying that the world was going to end," said Mayor Ron Morrison during council deliberation.

By the end of the night, the city council managed to trim $270,000 of fat from the budget, $130,000 short of their goal. They did so by reducing library hours by 12 hours a week, which saved the city approximately $140,000 a year, eliminating one full-time position on the neighborhood council program, closing recreation centers one hour earlier each day, shuttering the Kimball Senior Center on Fridays, and shutting down the pool on Sundays.

Regarding additional cuts to city services, Zapata said, "We have to put our harnesses back on."

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Comments
7

"Well Done" National City, you are making real fiscal progress!

But everyone in San Diego, please learn from National City:

"City revenues are back to 2004 levels, despite the 1 percent city sales-tax increase passed in 2006."

The proposed 1/2 % San Diego tax increase is but the first of many "hikes" that will occur if we the voters, allow this increase to pass at the next election; there will always be yet another despite need for MORE Money.

This is because our Leaders cannot do their job of solving our budget problems without also caving into those BIG UNIONS that helped get them elected and nobody is going to vote down their own personal benefits...

Aug. 13, 2010

"City revenues are back to 2004 levels, despite the 1 percent city sales-tax increase passed in 2006."

===========================

That was not a sales tax-that was a PENSION tax.

Aug. 13, 2010

"Nobody here predicted this except maybe the guy standing on the corner with a clapboard saying that the world was going to end," said Mayor Ron Morrison during council deliberation.

EVERYONE predicted it-that is what happens when you start comping cops and firehwiners $200K per year in a city with a median income of $30K per year and 95% of the kids at National City Middle School qualified for free lunches....................

Aug. 13, 2010

Reply #2& #3

Good catch on the PENSION vs. SalesTax

and

Right On for putting the ID on all HUGE PENSION GIFTS that leaves all the voters holding the empty bag while so many "firehwiners" retire as Financial Heros...

Aug. 13, 2010

The citizenry may want to consider going to an all volunteer Fire Depatrtment.

It works in other areas of the country why not here?

Aug. 15, 2010

Reply #5 Maryland is one State that has used Volunteers to augment their "Paid" firefighters, for many years, with perfect success!

But in California, the biggest "roadblock" to Volunteer Firefighters is the Powerful Firefighters Union itself; which wants only more expensive benefits for it's members and they will campaign and or promote only for the candidates that support their "Vision". Make no mistake, Fires are BIG business and provide huge overtime money, for all those that are on the clock continuously until these fires are declared "out". That is why Cal-Fire opposed allowing the Navy helicopter pilots to fly night missions during the last big San Diego fires. "Turf Wars" should not take place during major Fires.

There is no reason that volunteers cannot do much of the actual support and or the actual activities of these same first responders if they are properly trained, plus if the Unions were forced to hire from this group of trained Volunteers first, before hiring outsiders or those with Fire Dept. connections (think relatives), then we would get many more well trained firefighters for much less money than we have now, which would be the best solution for extreme situations like major fires and disasters as well as tough economic times like these!

Aug. 15, 2010

Adding to # 6 Of course the same argument is true concerning the Police Dept!

It is ridiculous that a sworn Police Officer: 1. Has to wait around for 30 to 60 minutes for a Private tow truck to remove a car that has been impounded, keeping him from being ON Duty. 2. Does not have the proper software tools that fills out most of the same info on all the various forms they now have to spend much of their time doing... 3. Does not audio and or video to document all arrests and violations they make, and reduce all contested abuse of power cases. 4. Do not have a volunteer "pool" of trained folks that they get to hire from, first to reduce on the job training. 5. Cannot sent those arrested to "jail" without spending 2 hours doing it one by one themselves; thing patty wagon or even a Taxi" service with special " taxi cabs, which would save huge amounts of manpower and time...

Aug. 15, 2010

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