Chula Vista’s General Fund Budget Deficit
Due to the fire and the air quality issues only 30 to 40 people showed up at the October 22, 2007 meeting of the Southwest Chula Vista Civic Association. City Manager David Garcia and Ed Van Eenoo, Director of Budget & Analysis, did come. City Manager Garcia had been awakened at 2 AM by the fire chief and spent his day at the emergency command center. Ed Van Eenoo lives in Eastlake Trails and had at home his mother and grandmother, who had been evacuated from Rancho Bernardo, and his wife and three small children. We commend their devotion to duty. They gave a presentation on the budget deficit to the Growth Management Oversight Commission at 5PM and then arrived at the meeting of SWCVCA at 6:45PM with the intention of informing the three civic groups in the city about the budget deficit. They felt that it was only fair that the community groups had the information they needed to provide informed comments to the City Council.
They gave an overview of the city’s General Fund revenues and expenses. (Click to see the Power Point.) This includes a chart showing exactly where every cent of every dollar of property tax money goes and graphs showing how much sales tax has fluctuated over the years and how low it is now. Property taxes are also lower since the County Assessor has recently reassessed properties. All the foreclosures and resales at lower value have started reducing property tax income.
There is a 7.3 million deficit. If nothing is done the reserves will be exhausted by the end of the year, which would be bankruptcy. Our city manager refuses to let this happen. He has taken three steps:
1. A hiring freeze,
2. Offer the 134 eligible employees two years of service credit if they retire early (Many have expressed interest, but it is not yet certain how many will take this offer.)
They need to cut 7.3 million. With 81% of budget being salaries and benefits this means eliminating 104 positions. They expect to have 39.2 layoffs. Vacant positions will not be filled or be filled by transfers from other departments where possible. He provided a list of 195 different cuts that have been suggested and ranked. Many are cuts of vacant positions, but all will affect services to the public. The cuts in police and fire are particularly worrisome, but these are the most expensive areas of the budget. Chula Vista already has a furlough program for all employees except police and fire. This means people take a week off without pay every year. This loss of income is spread over the year for the employees. The first 137 cuts would entail 104.3 full time employee cuts, 39.25 full time employee layoffs and save $14,666,320. This would keep the city from bankruptcy for a year. It turns out that the $7.3 million figure was only for six months.