At last Saturday's city budget meeting, the Claremont City Council approved a $2.32 million budget makeover, the Daily Bulletin reported. The changes were need to help the City deal with what the city was saying was going to be a $2.69 million shortfall in Fiscal Year 2009-10. This comes on the heels of a $1.5 million deficit for FY 2008-09.
That's total shortfall of $4.19 million through July 31, 2010, and it could have been worse. Luckily for Claremont, the state of California didn't touch local transportation funds when state legislators and Governor agreed the budget compromise last week, otherwise the hit for local governments would have been $1 billion worse. As it is, because our leaders can agree to a permanent fix to the budget process, our state leaders will probably be having another budget showdown in a few months. The Sacramento Bee's Dan Walters is calling it our state's five-month budget cycle.
So, Claremont's budget solution may not represent a real fix at all, and that 2009-10 deficit could still grow, depending on how the economy performs and what future revenues the state tries to take.
The cuts the City Council approved last Saturday include "golden handshakes" to encourage employees to take early retirement, raising fees for some city programs, and increases in parking ticket fees. The City will also have to workout an agreement with employee associations for either a 38-hour work week or a four-day work week. This will amount to a 5% pay cut for most employees. The City is also likely to eliminate some positions entirely.
The Bulletin article reported that Councilmember Peter Yao was the sole vote against the measure:
Councilman Peter Yao voted against the proposed changes. His objections were the cost of the Public Employees Retirement System "Golden Handshake" retirement package, where an employee receives two years of PERS service credit, and a larger police department budget in 2009-10 than in 2000-01, despite a similar budget projection.
"I can't honestly support it," Yao said, adding he felt the proposal was a temporary and not permanent fix.
The council also meets tonight for their last meeting before their August break. The city website was down for much of today, or we'd offer you a breakdown of some of the issues. Try checking out the city's website yourself at www.ci.claremont.ca.us.
Some interesting items on tonight's agenda:
- The College Ave. affordable housing project.
- The official city flower (staff says, "Sticky-leafed Monkeyflower").
- Expansion of the Oak Park Cemetery.
- Renaming the 100 block of East 11th St. The new name would be "Drucker Way." This is being proposed by the Claremont Graduate University.
- The City's investment report for FY 2008-09 (not all financial news is bad, it seems).
- City commission appointments and reappointments (some surprises here, including Butch Henderson, who landed a spot on the Human Services Commission).
The council meeting begins at 6:30pm in the City Council Chambers at 225 W. 2nd St. in the Claremont Village.