This week’s installment of Leftovers from City Hall:
Leftovers from City Hall: Tough times ahead for Valley cities
With three months left before the start of the new fiscal year, cities are putting the final touches on their proposed budgets before they go public.
It’ll likely be another tough year financially for a lot of San Gabriel Valley cities, some of which have already cut department budgets by up to 10 percent. Those cuts have resulted in the cancellation of community events and other programs.
In preparation for an expected $9 million budget deficit in 2009-10, West Covina City Manager Andrew Pasmant has had preliminary discussions with employees about cutting the fat from department budgets.
Others cities have implemented hiring freezes, gone to to the voters for tax hikes, and increased fees for services like business licenses and parking permits.
And as a last resort, some cities have even turned to their employees, their hours and their benefits as a way to save money.
In Irwindale, City Manager Robert Griego has already had conversations with some of the employee bargaining units to discuss how the budget crunch could affect future contracts.
While West Covina Council members said last week they will try to protect the jobs of city employees, they couldn’t make any promises.
Covina mayor blasts bankruptcy bill
Covina Mayor Walt Allen isn’t very happy about a bill that would make it harder for cities to declare bankruptcy.
AB 155 – proposed by local Assemblyman Tony Mendoza, D-Norwalk – will go before the Assembly’s Appropriations Committee on Wednesday.
It’s received support from police and fire unions, like the El Monte-based Los Angeles County Fire Fighters Local 1014 union, and Monterey Park-based Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs.
They believe the bill will protect their pensions.
But Allen, along with the League of California Cities, sees the bill as an attempt by the state to rein in local control.
“It is just another example of the total disconnect between the legislature and local government,” Allen said.
He pointed to a budget provision that would have allowed California to take $350 million in redevelopment funds from cities across the state.
Covina was expected to lose $500,000 as a result. Luckily, a Sacramento Superior Court judge Thursday ruled the plan unconstitutional.
No social security for CalPers members
It’s no wonder firefighters and police officers get such hearty pension plans. They can’t get social security.
Edward Fong of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, explained that firefighters and police officers up and down the state don’t contribute to the retirement system. So, they aren’t eligible to receive Social Security.
This explains why pension plans are typically more generous for firefighters and police officers compared to those of non-sworn employees, Fong said.
Another group of public employees exempt from Social Security: teachers.