Thursday, July 8, 2010

City Manager Steve Rhodes and Vice Mayor Mary Anne Nihart Discuss Five-Year Plan to Reduce Pacifica's Budget Deficit at Pacifica Democrat's Upcoming July 17th Meeting

Guest speakers, City Manager Steve Rhodes and Vice Mayor Mary Anne Nihart, will jointly discuss the City of Pacifica's Five-Year Plan to fix Pacifica's multi-million dollar budget deficit at the upcoming Pacifica Democrat's monthly breakfast meeting, which is scheduled to be held on Saturday morning, July 17, between 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. in the rear banquet room of the Sharp Park Golf Course Restaurant (Sharp Park and Francisco Blvds) in Pacifica.

Also scheduled for the July 17th meeting will be the City Manager officiating at the  installation of the Pacifica Democrat's newly elected Executive Board officers, who were elected at its June 19th meeting. The club officers for the 2010-2011 year are: President- Barbara Arietta; Vice President-Jack Waldbewohner; Treasurer- Suzan Getchell-Wallace and Secretary - Mari Brumm Merrill.

It has been estimated that Pacifica has an approximate $14-15 million structural deficit over the course of the next several years. Earlier this spring, on April 12, 2010, the City Council unanimously approved the recommendations from the Financing City Services Task Force to move forward on a plan to try to reduce Pacifica's multi-million structural deficit over a five-year period. After meeting over the last year and a half, to figure out just what needed to be done, the Task Force presented its final report to the Council last April in three options.

As reported in an April Pacifica Tribune article by Jane Northrup, the three options are as follows:

Option One
: (preferred option) It does not cut the budgets of any city department, nor does it cut personnel positions. It calls for the city to revisit labor agreements in order to try to negotiate a wage freeze and a freeze to the city's contribution rate to retirement benefits. By doing this, the Task Force expects to  save $8.5 million over a five-year period. Under this option, voters will be asked to approve three revenue-generating measures: an increase in the Temporary Occupancy Tax (TOT) that hotel guests pay, a public safety assessment and a revised utility user's tax. The TOT would increase from 10 percent to 12 percent over five years, if voters approve the measure in November. After the November election, voters will then be asked, in the spring of 2011, to pass a public safety assessment to raise $4 million over four years. The third step, a revised utility user's tax, which is expected to provide $2 million in additional revenue over three years, will come before voters in November 2012.

Option Two:  This approach would call for proportional cuts to be made to each department in order to raise the multi-millions necessary to eliminate the structural deficit over the course of a five-year period.

Option Three: (least preferred option) This is a service reduction option. It would cut 17 city positions to save $1.9 million. The positions to be cut include the following: an administrative clerk, a clerk in the Human Resources Dept., a recreation supervisor and food services worker in the Parks, Beaches and Recreation Department, a police captain, evidence supervisor and police records supervisor in the Police Department, one firefighter in the Fire Dept., a management analyst and assistant planner in the Planning Department , and three tree trimmers and an equipment operator in the Public Works Department. However, because the positions to be eliminated include those who do street sweeping and tree trimming, the city would have to contract out those services at a cost of $690,000, which would reduce the total savings to $1.274 million.

According to projections coming out of the City Manager's office by year four of the five-year plan, the structural deficit should be eliminated and the city will once again begin building a reserve.
As reported in a recent article written by Julia Scott in the San Mateo Times on June 29, "Pacifica has been running out of places to look for money...The cash-strapped city has been balancing its budget this past year by borrowing heavily from its reserves, which have dwindled to $1.7 million from $7 million two years ago...Pacifica faces a $15 million structural deficit over the next five years. The TOT (hotel tax) increase (to be voted on in November)would add an extra $640,000 to the city's General Fund in that time...Officials intend to stop the bleeding over the next five years with $8.5 million in salary freezes and negotiated pension contribution freezes, along with a series of strategies they hope will generate an additional $6.6 million in revenues..."

In the same Scott article Mayor Sue Digre commented that, "If concessions aren't made by employees in the next year, the city will be forced to look at layoffs and furloughs..."

After the November election and potential budget reductions, the Financing City Service's Task Force will meet again in January 2011 to see what progress is being made. If progress is not being made, what next steps to be made will be determined at that time.

The Pacifica Democrats extend an invitation to the general public to come join them on the 17th of July, as they listen to both City Manager Steve Rhodes and Vice Mayor Mary Anne Nihart discuss these very important municipal issues. All Pacifica Democrat meetings are open to the public. It is neither necessary to be a club member, nor even a Democrat to attend the meeting. Doors open at 9am and seating is between 9:00 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. A full breakfast is available for $12; continental for $6; coffee only $3. RSVPS, though not mandatory, are appreciated. For further information or to RSVP, please contact Barbara Arietta, President, at 415-246-0775 or email  

Barbara Arietta
President - Pacifica Democrats


Steve Sinai said...

Interesting how the four council members most responsible for the city's financial difficulties are staying out of sight.

Unknown said...

Where the heck are they? Seriously. Where's Jimmy, Petey, Julie and Sue-e?

Lionel Emde said...

At least Sue talked to a reporter.

The plan strikes me as nonsensical. The TOT tax increase is $160,000 per year in supposed revenue. That doesn't even cover one top staff position. The Times reported we have a grand total of six hotels. Will tourism hold up?

The council has spent 75 percent of our reserves in the last two years to balance a "structural deficit." Totally irresponsible, and there won't be enough money to try it again next year.
($1.7 million left in reserves versus $2.7 million average per year spent to cover the "structural deficit.")

The parcel tax is going to be a hard sell at the very least, and it comes AFTER the next budget cycle. How's that supposed to work?

The filing period for city council candidates begins next Monday. I will be paying attention, and I sure hope others will as well.

Unknown said...

I think it's time that the 3 incumbents realize what they've done to this town. They don't have a "plan". They don't have a "vision". And, they have systematically run this town into the ground. Enough is enough. There is nothing, NOTHING, that any of you can say that will change what your record proves. On every count, you have not brought anything that has improved the overall health of this community.

Kathy Meeh said...

"jaime", I agree with you, but I think the above meeting will be a hoot...the 4 culprit councilmembers send-in newest councilmember Mary Ann Nihart and general manager Steve Rhodes to explain-away the consequences the 4 have caused.