Claremont Insider: The Party's Over

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Party's Over

Ed at M-M-M-My Pomona has a post with a breakdown of our local congressional reps voted on the failed $700 billion financial bailout package (the numbers to the left of the names are congressional districts:

26 David Dreier Rep Y
32 Hilda Solis Dem N
38 Grace Napolitano Dem N
39 Linda Sanchez Dem N
40 Edward Royce Rep N
42 Gary Miller Rep Y
43 Joe Baca Dem N
44 Ken Calvert Rep Y

So the wrangling in Washington goes on. In the meantime, credit markets are freezing up as fear causes institutions and individuals to hang on to their cash. On Saturday, the Los Angeles Times had an article about the great credit freeze and the potential impact on local government:
Credit -- the lifeblood of the economy -- has simply stopped flowing in many parts of the financial system over the last two weeks.

"Figuratively, institutions are putting money in a mattress," said Bill Gross, the chief investment officer of money management giant Pimco in Newport Beach.

Many banks have stopped making short-term loans to other lenders. Big investors are hoarding cash, and the only IOUs some will accept are those of the U.S. Treasury. States and cities suddenly face crushingly high interest rates if they try to sell bonds to finance government operations. And for many businesses and consumers, credit is harder to get -- if it's available at all.

The root of this crisis is the housing market's collapse, but the shock waves are reaching well beyond the real estate market and are threatening to make a full-blown recession inevitable.

At the same time Claremont is thinking about building a $20-25 million police station, the cost of financing the facility may likely be on the rise, and voters may balk at at the thought of yet another city construction extravaganza at their expense.

Claremont's local taxes are already on the high-end of what Southern Californians pay for their services, and some recent events have folks questioning questioning how much bang they're getting for their buck. The majority of our City Council seems to think the money flow will go on unchanged, but events far beyond their control will quite likely reshape those assumptions. The state will have to come back next year and deal with another budget crisis that's likely to be as bad or worse the this year's, especially if the economy contracts and financial markets take a long time to recover. In the meantime, though, our City Council may be leaving us a deep hole to contend with when the bill finally comes due.