Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Pacifica cuts jobs to balance budget but still funds resource center
By Julia Scott
Posted: 06/14/2011 10:23:11 PM PDT
Updated: 06/14/2011 11:15:56 PM PDT
The Pacifica City Council adopted a budget Monday that cut $1.5 million and 19.7 staff jobs, including that of the city attorney. But it won't be nearly enough.
"We're still deficit spending," said Mayor Mary Ann Nihart, before voting for the budget. "We're but a decent lawsuit away from a bankruptcy this year."
Officials used the city's reserves to cover the deficit, a long-running habit in Pacifica. But the reserve is now running so low -- projected to bottom out at $976,000 by the end of the fiscal year, barring an unexpected boost in property taxes -- that if an earthquake or a tsunami hit, the city would not be able to pay for a response.
The city was counting on voters' willingness to renew a fire suppression property tax assessment that, along with further cuts, would have buoyed the city through a $14 million shortfall between now and 2014-15. But voters rejected the assessment this year, and officials have projected the need to cut $2 million more in the 2012-2013 fiscal year.
Unfortunately, council members disagree on where to cut. Councilman Peter DeJarnatt voted against adopting the $26 million budget as written on Monday. He said he objected to cutting City Attorney Cecilia Quick and replacing her with a contracted attorney.
Pacifica spent $388,179 on Quick's salary and benefits last year, plus another $283,358 on outside attorney expenses, for a total of $691,720. This year, the city is projected to save $112,000 on attorney services -- a savings of 16 percent.
Submitted by Jim Alex