Welcome back to the work week!
Here’s this week’s column inspired by the great dialogue by our readers last week. Thanks to everyone for participating in the conversation. There were many ideas that we’ve not heard from our elected leaders:
They say drastic times call for drastic measures.
We’ve certainly seen a lot of that as local leaders struggle with faltering revenues and excruciating budget cuts.
In West Covina, every department head was asked to cut five percent from their budget to make up for a $2.1million deficit.
In El Monte, facing a $400,000 deficit, council members slashed the Police Department’s funds, maintained hiring freezes and cut back on recreation programs.
And in cities like Pico Rivera, El Monte, San Gabriel and Covina, taxes seem to be the only answer to supplement wavering incomes.
Many city council members have said this undoubtedly is a difficult time and it never is easy making cuts.
But what you would do if you were running the show?
Here are some ideas readers came up with, and they’re nothing like what our elected officials have suggested:
Eliminate all car, travel and cell phone allowances for council members, as well as car allowances for city employees. “Stop paying for trips to China, Paris, Mexico, etc.,” according to one reader.
Cut back on recreation departments, including youth and senior programs.
“Seniors tend to be better off than most non-retired working age folks. Seniors, though they are on fixed incomes, usually have a lifetime’s worth of savings and investments accumulated … and they also enjoy many discounts that non-seniors do not enjoy,” another reader wrote.
Turn off at least half of street lights.
“We’re figuratively throwing our money into the sky with all the lighting that goes up where it is not needed,” one reader wrote.
Cut back on overtime for public safety, review every contract that has been in place in the city for at least three years and consider cutting staffing of “non-essential things such as school resource officers or farmer’s markets,” according to another reader.
Require those on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to use public transportation to attend meetings. “They’re in charge of the MTA; they should be able to get to the meetings using the same public transit they govern. If it’s not good enough for them, it’s not good for us, either.”
While some of these ideas are downright impossible others are more feasible.
Elected officials say city government is a labor of love.
So maybe they should think outside of the box a little more often. And maybe readers should get up from behind their computer screens and attend council meetings a little more often, too. Give those councils a piece of their minds.