Bobkiewicz memo to staff warns of possible 20 percent budget reduction

January 28, 2009
Santa Paula News

The city is facing some possibly tough economic times, a whopping 20 percent worth of revenue losses, according to a Monday email sent to staff by City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesThe city is facing some possibly tough economic times, a whopping 20 percent worth of revenue losses, according to a Monday email sent to staff by City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz. The City Council was scheduled to address several facets of the budget at the Monday meeting.“Overall, we believe we continue to be on target for ending FY 2008/09 balanced,” and Bobkiewicz wrote that the “steps we have taken thus far, steps we are proposing tonight and additional steps that we will return to the City Council in late February to outline should allow us to end the year without any employee layoffs.” However, the situation remains “very fluid and could change, based on actions of the State Legislature, at any moment.”The State Legislature has been in gridlock with the budget, which is now more than 80 days past adoption. Legislators are looking at $6 billion in cuts amid reports that the state’s unemployment rate has jumped to 9.3 percent. The state’s overall deficit is $400 billion for the next 18 months.Money grabbing by Sacramento is expected to hit cities and others hard in the pocketbook.The national economy is in shambles. With the housing market crisis property tax is dwindling, and the high unemployment and under-employed numbers are eroding sales tax revenues.
“As we look to FY 2009/10, a worse case scenario could be a 20 percent reduction in revenues to the City as the full impact of decreased property values will begin to be felt,” and Bobkiewicz wrote that staff would propose to Council at the January 26 meeting to “adopt the FY 2009/10 budget a month earlier than usual to allow us to implement any service reductions in time to benefit from a full twelve months of savings beginning July 1, 2009.“I cannot stress enough the unknown impacts of the State Legislature’s inaction so far, and ultimate impacts of their action whenever they get around to dealing with their current and future year budget deficits. The City’s budget situation will remain unstable for the next eighteen months at best, and perhaps as long as next three years. My recommendations to the City Council will continue to be proactive so that we can minimize impacts to our staff and the community as these changes come.”Also on Monday’s Council agenda was the “first formal steps in providing a two year PERS service credit for selected classifications,” ranging from animal control officer to building and safety director, and Bobkiewicz wrote that he expects nine employees to take advantage of the so-called Golden Handshake to retire. “These retirements provide an opportunity for cost savings through re-organization and position elimination,” and Bobkiewicz noted the “specific impacts of these retirements will be evaluated over the next few months.”Also to be considered by the Council are one-year compensation agreements with department heads and mid-managers that have agreed to no wage or benefit increases this year. “I have informed the City Council that I will abide by the Executive Management agreement as well for 2009” and, wrote Bobkiewicz, “accept no salary adjustment.”Bobkiewicz will return to the Council on February 17 with “additional thoughts on reorganization and other cost savings as we head into FY 2009/10.”

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