Thursday, April 15, 2010

Financing City Services Task Force Final Report 3/19/10


In September 2008 the City Council established the Financing City Services Task Force. The Task Force’s initial charge was to develop a plan to supplement the loss of the one million dollars collected by a Fire Assessment. The five-year, property owner approved assessment was due to expire on July 1, 2009. The City did not pursue a continuation of the Fire Assessment since the public input provided to the consultants who studied fire options for the City found little support for continuing the assessment. The City of Pacifica was in a situation similar to that of many cities across the State that were confronting extreme hardships, and in an attempt to build revenues during the economic downturn many cities were placing a variety of measures on the ballot. On November 3, 2009 over 100 local measures were placed on the ballot including 57 for city taxes, fees and bonds for cities, counties and schools.

The Task Force met from October 2008 until February 2009 to review a variety of revenue generating options and data from a community survey. Based on the survey data and revenue projections, the Taskforce recommended that the Council send a Sales Tax Measure to the voters in a Special Election in May 2009. Simultaneously, the State of California moved to increase the Sales Tax and placed a measure on the ballot. Neither the State nor the Pacifica sales tax measures were approved by the voters at the election.

On July 13, 2009, the mission of the Financing City Service Task Force was revised by the City Council with the adoption of Resolution No. 51-2009. That resolution set out the objectives for the Task Force as:
  1. Work with staff to review service levels and expenditures; 
  2. Explore ways to reduce costs and achieve efficiencies in City operations;  
  3. Examine revenues and explore the need for additional or revised methods to finance City services; 
  4. Develop and recommend to the City Council a Five Year Financial Plan that will incorporate the results of the Task Force’s review of expenditures and revenues and establish a method for resolving the structural deficit. 

The Council also continued the membership of all those who were currently on the Task Force and assigned Councilmember Lancelle and Mayor ProTem Nihart as Council representatives on the Task Force. Members of the original Task Force who remained on the Task Force include: Bruce Banco, Bill Bent, Mary Ellen Carroll, Greg Cochran, Suzan Getchell-Wallace, Karen Ervin, Omar Saleh, Pete Shoemaker and Sue Vaterlaus. Pete Shoemaker serves as Chair and Mary Ellen Carroll serves as Vice Chair.

During that same timeframe the Council also created an Economic Development Committee (EDC) with Objectives that focused on strengthening the economy of the City. Those objectives are:
  1. To work with the City Manager to review and develop plans to improve customer service in departments that work with existing and new businesses;
  2. Help businesses in existing districts to organize and implement plans for improvement;
  3. Devise and implement a plan for outreach and marketing of Pacifica to potential new businesses.

This Committee is seen as a complement to the work of the Financing City Services Task Force since the EDC will be working to increase the long term financial stability of the city and community.

Read the rest of the report...

Posted by Steve Sinai


Kathy Meeh said...

Thanks Steve, page 6, more smoke and mirrors. The City Council appointed Finance Committee plan to balance the 5 year deficit (a series of taxes to the public):
1. Hotel TOT on the ballot 11/2010
2. Property owner tax for "public safety" 5/2011
3. Revised utilities tax 11/2012

Note: how #2 and #3 taxes don't hit until after the 11/2010 election, #1 affects visitors only (although may cut into our Hotel business). Then, don't forget about the property owner $50 million sewer collection pipe replacement cost to property owners 6/2011.

This is more of the same "nothing for Pacifica" city council plan to fix it plan. Let the people eat "taxes"! Remember Measure D? Guess city council didn't get the message then. Same year and prior this city council sub-committee Lancelle and Vreeland nixed tax revenue generating quarry development.

Anonymous said...

I attended the April 12 Council Meeting in which it was voted upon to enact the recommendations in the report.

I'm probably pretty naive, but I expected a bit of banter and discussion about the contents of the report, possible alternatives, etc. Boy, was I wrong.

Council did only two things:

1) effusively praised the three Finance Committee members present for their work

2) advised the members to develop "thick skin" and to expect criticism by those who would use the report for political purposes.

I specifically recall Nihart and Vreeland going on about #2. As a neutral citizen, I was pretty stunned, because they were basically stating up front that the report ought to be immune to criticism or critique.

I don't know about you, but I think many things benefit from close examination, constructive criticism and brainstorming. This report was subject to none of that during the committee meeting and I think it will suffer for it (i.e., the measures won't pass).

But, like I said, I'm probably super-naive about this.

Kathy Meeh said...

Anonymous, you are wise beyond your years, and are to be commended for your thoughtful, intelligent comments. After 8 years, beyond a shadow of a doubt, its clear that the economic plan presented by this city council is regressive: more taxes, more volunteerism, fewer services.

The property owner sewer fee next year to fund the collection pipe replacement is going to be a whopper going forward.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your kind words, Kathy.

I suppose, since Council tasked the Finance Group to come up with the report, they'd pretty much adopt it without much issue.

And I realize the money has to come from **somewhere** to close the revenue gap in order to provide us our basic services.

What really bothered me was the pre-emptive stance Council took that any criticism of the Task Force Report shouldn't be taken seriously, or even considered at all. They presented a united front that this was the way it was going to be, no questions asked, and that if you **did** ask questions, you were merely trying to score political points.


Kathy Meeh said...

Anonymous, ugh is right. And, that's about the way it always is. This 8 year "no growth" city council works their agenda, which doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the general welfare and "good of the people" of this city. Power and control of a city population without balanced civic economic wisdom, and no vocal regress-- that's about what we've got. Apt observation on your part.

Lionel Emde said...

I'll pose the same question I posed to the thread we have going on Riptide regarding this report.
If the two ballot measures are forecast to raise $6 million over the five-year planned period, and the city manager forecasts a $14 million shortfall over that same period:

Where's the other $8 million coming from?

Kathy Meeh said...

Hi Lionel, good question as usual. Based upon a population of $38,500 about $208 from each member of your family? Financed bonds, maybe $400 per family member, or not paid down bonds? Priceless. And, that's why we need to encourage business and develop the properties we can to bring-in needed tax revenue (plus jobs and services).

Anonymous said...


The report estimates a savings of $8.5M over five years via negotiations with labor groups. It's quite an assumption, but I guess they're going to ask really, really nicely to ensure this happens.

The report states:

"Since the largerst and fastest-growing component of the City's budget is salary and benefits costs, we recommend that the City ask all employee labor groups, in their appropriate negotiations, to make adjustments which will lower these anticpated costs over the next five years. These adjustments comprise a number of possible items (a list is included in the attachments) and may include a freeze on wages and a freeze in the City's contribution rate to retirement benefits. We estimate that these two alone will save about $8.5 million over the five-year span."

-Option A: Expenditure and Revenue Adjustments, first paragraph

Anonymous said...

Why don't you ask the task force or the city council or the city manager or the finance director?

Anonymous said...

Asked and answered.

Pacifica Truth Police said...

"Where's the other $8 million coming from?"

I'll take Taxes, Tariffs, Tolls, Fees, Levies, Assessments and Duties for 8 million, Alex...

Steve Sinai said...

Why was Pete Shoemaker in charge of the committee? He's one of the people most responsible for the mess the city's in.

That's like putting George W. Bush in charge of a committee to rein in federal spending.

Anonymous said...

Because he is a frogy and the snakes need to be protected by the people.

I am sorry but in my opinion I strongly believe that when the city form this little committees are always are going to do what they want them to do.

That's is why we need new people in Council. We could put a garbage man, a mailmen, a security guy, a Mzzetti employee etc somebody that doesn't have any string attach with the council.

Lionel Emde said...

"Why don't you ask the task force or the city council or the city manager or the finance director?"

How 'bout a staff report with complete information? Let's start with that!

long lohn curtis said...

pete shoemaker says the city council is running the city competently and efficiently, and their critics are liars. city council says pete shoemaker's evaluations are unassailable and critics of the task force are liars. what the hell is the complaint? listen to circular back patting and ignore the obvious facts. pay more for less, its the pacifica way. now buy me a cheeseburger!!

Anonymous said...

Don't they have cheeseburgers in Texas?