News


TONIGHT: Council to discuss potential cuts

Library, police and nonprofit funds on the chopping block

Last week the city manager released a list of potential budget cuts to fix an estimated $5 million budget deficit, including cuts to police and library services, cutting off funds to local nonprofits and the possible closure of Deer Hollow Farm. Tonight, the City Council will discuss those proposals during its regular meeting.

Highlights of the proposed cuts include eliminating funds to 13 local nonprofits and services, such as the Day Worker Center and the Community Services Agency, to save $272,000. The city also could cut its $110,000 share of funding to Deer Hollow Farm in Rancho San Antonio, which would lead to the full closure of the demonstration farm enjoyed by hundreds of schoolchildren every year.

The city is also considering 37 employee layoffs, and could transfer the maintenance of 12,800 street trees to property owners to save up to $325,000 a year.

About $1.4 million in cuts are listed for the Police Department, including the loss of an unspecified number of low-level police officers, or "community service officers," to save $785,300. If those cuts were made, the department says, about 100 crime victims a year would not have their cases investigated, but the impact on public safety is minimal.

On the block

The potential city cuts include:

■ Reducing library hours by six to eight hours a week could save $150,000, while library staff, services and program cuts could save $93,000.

■ Reducing code enforcement services by 50 percent to save $110,000, which means code enforcement would focus solely on life safety and zoning issues. "Neighborhood preservation" complaints, such as front yard storage, weeds, signs and private property parking complaints, would go largely unanswered.

■ Elimination of the city's dedicated shopping cart/graffiti abatement program to save $54,700 a year.

■ Cutting park ranger hours to pre-2007 levels, which means less enforcement of park rules at Cuesta and Rengstorff parks, and an increased need for police patrol of parks. Saves $111,700.

■ Eliminating the city's dedicated weed abatement program (saves $105,200) which will result in more weeds in city parks and medians.

■ A combined restructuring of the city manager's office and the employees services department to save up to $150,000.

■ Reducing tree trimming of the city's 28,000 trees or transfer maintenance of 12,800 street trees to property owners to save up to $325,000. The report says the city could lose its "Tree City USA" status.

In the report, city manager Kevin Duggan announces that city staff found $1 million in other budget savings over the last year, reducing the projected deficit from $5 million to $4 million.

While he potential cuts could save the city in total as much as $4.3 million, the city hopes to have to make only $2 million in service cuts by saving $1 million in employee compensation cost cuts and by creating $1 million in new city revenues.

Reasons for deficit

While rising employee compensations costs are the biggest reason why the city is facing a recurring deficit of about $4 million, the city is unable to significantly contain those costs this year, council members say, as only the Police Department's union contract is up for renegotiation this year.

The rest of city staff are largely represented by three other unions which have contracts up for renegotiation in June 2011. Duggan said the city could save $1 million a year by reducing the Fire Department's minimum staffing requirement of 21 firefighters on duty at any given time to 19. The current staffing requirement is set in a union contract with firefighters.

The $1 million in savings announced was found mostly in a reorganization of the Police Department for a savings of $512,000. There is also $25,000 in reduced fuel costs, $70,000 saved from contracting out an emergency medical services coordinator in the Fire Department, $170,000 in savings from paying its pension rate to the state at the beginning of the year, and $100,000 saved from renegotiating the city's purchasing contracts.

The council has until June to pass a city budget, and "no final action will be taken at this meeting," said Kimberly Thomas, assistant to the city manager.

The 26-page report can be found at www.mountainview.gov under City Council agendas and public records. The budget study session is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 23 in the City Council chambers on the second floor of City Hall, 500 Castro St.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by outragedresident
a resident of Whisman Station
on Feb 19, 2010 at 4:13 pm

the cuts should start from the top. all the senior level officers salaries and perks,travelling expenses should be cut steeply before they cut safety and security budgets. police and fire should be the last thing on their list. all these mgrs who are sitting on their desks should get a cut in their allowances,bonuses,lumpsum payments for buying a home,etc..all need to be eliminated. Stop treating yourself like you are all indispensable.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 19, 2010 at 8:20 pm

Study Budget spreadsheet available to the public

The city Finance Department has an Excel spreadsheet on the preliminary budget (and assumptions) that they are working with. At the request of several of us who attended a public meeting on the budget planning process several months ago - this spreadsheet is available to anyone interested. It's pretty dense -but Steve Hill (North Whisman) or anyone interested in simulations can use it to run "what if" simulations of their own.

The title of the document is "09-10 Long Range Financial Plan GF Forecast.xls" and the author is Suzanne Niederhofer. Note GF is General Fund and it does not include monies collected/spent through Shoreline District (North Bayshore) or the central Redevelopment or Business Districts. The version I have has a modify date of Nov 30, 2009 and appears to have a legacy from Apr 13 1999 (ie it's a fairly stable tool of city finances).

This process of making the early budget planning analysis available to the public was INITIATED by the Finance Department with the approval of the City Manager. I consider it exemplary public servant service.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Carl
a resident of The Crossings
on Feb 19, 2010 at 8:28 pm

I guess they never heard of just plain old reducing of salaries.

The chickens have finally come home to roost.

I say go ahead and cut everything listed above and then get to work on employee compensation packages next year. I will believe that when I see it.

Stop blackmailing us with threats to so-called trumped up services.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Wavering Dem
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 19, 2010 at 10:09 pm

It's always amazing to me how much is cut and how little money is saved. I think what would be more informative would be for the Voice to report on who gets how much and why their jobs are not under threat of elimination. My sense is that the bottom tiers that really do the work are the first to be cut - is that right or not?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ishmael
a resident of North Whisman
on Feb 19, 2010 at 10:47 pm

why don't we just tax Google more?

they got billions.

Google is so cheap.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kristin
a resident of North Whisman
on Feb 20, 2010 at 12:19 am

They assure us that "[t]he impact on public safety is minimal." Cuts that in any way impact our safety devalue our community. If it comes to this, our city manager and city council have clearly not done their jobs properly. Even suggesting such cuts without first completely cutting the fat off the top is highly suspect and extremely disappointing. Our police department as currently staffed is excellent (albeit already lean), and it is a large reason I live and work in MV. Cuts in this area cannot be a proper solution to our budget challenges.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by J
a resident of The Crossings
on Feb 20, 2010 at 8:38 pm

I think a lot of these cuts seem reasonable--little nips and tucks here and there. What's a few more weeds? Why not have property owners be responsible for all of the trees on their property? If the library shifts its hours a little bit each day, that seems reasonable to me. It actually looks like a budget that is trying to spread the cuts around and be as gentle as it can be while still making some headway.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Chewbacca
a resident of another community
on Feb 20, 2010 at 10:11 pm

How about the vehicle allowances that management receives? Take these away, let them drive their own cars to work with their own gas just like the front line workers do every day!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ryan
a resident of another community
on Feb 22, 2010 at 7:03 pm

Mountain View has always been known as a City with too many chiefs and not enough indians. But these proposed budget cuts cut more front line staff. I dont see any proposals for cutting upper management. Kevin Duggan I read makes $225,000 with salary and benefits. Makes more sense to me to cut across the board using the "everyone feels the pain" style but apparently City management thinks theyre indispensible. I dont live in MV, but looking at this budget proposal, I'm glad I dont. I would pressure the City Council to question Duggan's "the sky is falling" budget proposal and look inward at management. If the abandoned vehicle in front of your house never moves or the graffiti down the block remains, just think of Duggans salary. Should make you very very angry.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jack
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 23, 2010 at 8:49 am

Re: Ryan

I am also "glad" that you don't live in MV. You make comments about stuff that you know nothing about. For the work that Duggan does, he should get a raise;instead of you making (uninformed) blanket statements, why not justify your statements. And i think it's funny how you neglect to state that "city management" forgoed a substantial increase last fiscal year. I would like to think that i am an informed MV resident and perhaps you should concern yourself with your own community.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dave Williams
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 23, 2010 at 2:40 pm

I value living in Mountain View and have always promoted the city as an example of a well managed community.

I am concerned that as this budget deficit is resolved that the cuts will be from those employees who are positioned to be the next generation of leaders and key workers in all the functional areas.

With an aging work force and favorable retirement scenarios, when the retirements come from the police, fire, maintenance, office staff, planning, building code inspectors, etc. who will be there to maintain any semblance of continuation of services.

We have already seen this with recent retirements in the management staff that were retained at (least temporarily) as consultants.

I know difficult decisions need to be made as the City can not spend more than it has and I trust that the council and staff will manage this deficit reduction wisely but I also hope that they consider, when making these cuts, how Mountain View can remain an excellent place to live well into the future.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jack
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Feb 23, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Why are people complaining of the $225,00.00 Kevin Duggan is paid but say nothing about the $272,000.00 given to the Day Worker Center?
Regardless how many of you feel sorry for these non-documented immigrants, they are here illegally, and we are supporting them? Close the Day Workers Center.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by vfree
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 23, 2010 at 3:26 pm

OMG, What would the other City Councils be saying about Mtn View if we lost our "Tree City USA" status.

"About $1.4 million in cuts are listed for the Police Department, including the loss of an unspecified number of low-level police officers, or "community service officers," to save $785,300. If those cuts were made, the department says, about 100 crime victims a year would not have their cases investigated, but the impact on public safety is minimal."

That's NOT acceptable or believeable. Criminals escalate their level of crime the longer they don't get caught.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hardin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 23, 2010 at 3:43 pm

Mountain View City government officals have done an exemplary job of maintaining the city. Looking back at past budget performance shows that the City has managed its finances very well, maintaining and using its reserves strategically.

Let's remember that the biggest drivers for the budget woes we have now are related to the financial crisis the country is experiencing, and that the state government has raided city coffers to compensate for its mismanagement.

With regards to the cuts made, that's never an easy decision. But it is imperative we live within our means. If you want the services, then be prepared to pay for them.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by kanank
a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 23, 2010 at 3:55 pm

city officials and employees should take a steep cut in their salaries,perks,travelling perks, auto leasing allowances,etc..before they cut service for the public. These city officals and employees sure act like the Wall street firms and their execs. They think they are above everyone else and resist taking cuts in their lavish pay. They all should be fired first and rehired at a substantially lower level salaries.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Over Budget
a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 23, 2010 at 4:48 pm

Yes on - eliminating the Day Worker Center.

Don't mess with Police services or library services. This community needs the police and could probably stand to add some officers.

About $1.4 million in cuts are listed for the Police Department, including the loss of an unspecified number of low-level police officers, or "community service officers," to save $785,300. If those cuts were made, the department says, about 100 crime victims a year would not have their cases investigated, but the impact on public safety is minimal. This is in my opinion unacceptable. Crime victims deserve justice, and even 50 would be too many that don't get it.


Eliminate the worthless day worker center. Eliminate some of the city workers. I could point out several that are worthless to the function of the city.

Yes for a combined restructuring of the city manager's office and the employees services department to save up to $150,000.

Yes for cutting park ranger hours to pre-2007 levels, which means less enforcement of park rules at Cuesta and Rengstorff parks, and an increased need for police patrol of parks. Saves $111,700.
I've spent a lot of time at Cuesta and have yet to see a ranger.

Deer Hollow Farm in Rancho San Antonio is another waste of money and property.

This should have been cut a long time ago. - Reducing code enforcement services by 50 percent to save $110,000, which means code enforcement would focus solely on life safety and zoning issues. "Neighborhood preservation" complaints, such as front yard storage, weeds, signs and private property parking complaints, would go largely unanswered.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Comments
a resident of another community
on Feb 23, 2010 at 8:04 pm

I'm sorry but City employees do not receive bonuses and the employees that are paid a monthly vehicle fee is because they drive their own vehicles all over the place doing City business.

Mtn. View is in a lot less trouble than many other cities and counties around mostly because of Kevin Duggan's leadership. Open your eyes.




 +   Like this comment
Posted by Thom
a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 23, 2010 at 9:29 pm

"Kevin Duggan $225,00.00"

That's insane.

--------------------

"Regardless how many of you feel sorry for these non-documented immigrants, they are here illegally, and we are supporting them? Close the Day Workers Center."

Who feels sorry for them? It shouldn't have been opened in the first place. But Mountain View takes blind eye towards illegals in our city, which allows them to move about as if they weren't criminals. Now they take advantage of tax free money, free medical. I'd say they have it pretty good. And before someone disputes the free medical. I know for a fact because I know someone here illegally that fell off a ladder and broke his left arm and hip. He has a pin in his hip and his arm was set and placed in a cast, and has follow up appointments. I'm not saying he should have suffered, but if I fell off a ladder I would be in debt until I could afford to pay the bill.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rodger
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Feb 23, 2010 at 11:30 pm

I think we know what happens when the city trys to say that their trees on their property must be maintained by the nearby property owners, a young boy lost his life in San Jose because of this nonsense. If they say we own the city tree I plan to cut it down because the liquid amber tree in front of my yard is dirty and a hazard.

Instead let's just cut the top managers salary by 10% and the workers by 5%, we can pay them back when the city has more money.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sue
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 24, 2010 at 9:50 am

No wonder this process was started so early in the year - council has no clue - again - it's all about how good they look to the public.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by sam
a resident of Castro City
on Feb 24, 2010 at 9:52 am

Lescher finally made sense!
Council; stop trying to get to the reserves!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tony
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 24, 2010 at 9:59 am

How about we stop letting public safety hold us hostage by threatening to not help anymore if we cut budgets.

"Cut our budget and we'll stop answering 911."
"Make us give up our overtime pay and you'll die in a fire"

You want to talk about salaries, look at how much the fire fighters make. Not their base pay, their OVERTIME pay. Most of he fire fighters make more than anyone else in the city. But they hold a pancake breakfast and wave the 9/11 banner and you fools all go running to write them a check. You let them hold you hostage based on paying them "protection" money. Don't pay and you might burn for it. Nobody else in the city is saying "cut my budget and I'll stop doing my job right" but these guys get away with it.

Look at the report. Fire has cut 2.2% while the rest of the city has cut double digits. Fire has grown in position while the rest of the city shrank. They just bought 6 brand new fire trucks even though the old ones were fine. And every time a fire happens in Mountain View, the building burns to the ground. Great investment.

And this council is a joke. They sit there and villify the city officials so that they can do the Vegas dealer hand off. <Clap Clap> "Not my problem, I didn't vote for it". These people are supposed to be helping, not acting lke the city is doing something wrong. They sat there and voted everything down while not offering a single bit of helkp except to ask the city to go back and do more work. The first thing out of their mouths was "Well, don't cut MY budget, but everyone elses should be cut."

How about we stop paying the city council. Stop hosting dinners for them. Stop catering al of their events. Stop giving them slush funds. Stop re-furnishing their meeting room that is never used, or stop furnishing that beautiful office that they have for the Mayor. You want to help, stop spending our money on yourselves City Council.

And fire. Get over yourselves. You're not worth $250,000 year each. Nobody is.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by stu
a resident of Whisman Station
on Feb 24, 2010 at 10:17 am

Maybe we need to look at a 'fire district' and work with the other neighboring cities to cover us since our own fire department won't help their own city.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Anthony
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 24, 2010 at 12:19 pm

Once again the council shows it's cowardice. All they are concerned about is getting re-elected. This was a fun job when Mountain View was rich. All they had to do was get money for their pet projects. Now that real work has to be done, they dont't want to upset their constituents "during an election year". (An actual statement from one of their meetings)

Why are we not holding these people responsible for their inability to make decisions? They were elected to represent us, and if that means making smart cuts then MAKE THE DECISIONS!!! Stop sitting there acting like you want to be the heroes by saying "I don't support this cut or that one" . Of course you don't. That would require you to have some conviction.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hardin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 24, 2010 at 1:04 pm

According to the article, it appears the largest potential savings come from renegotiation of contracts with the several unions that represent various branches of City government. The order of magnitude difference in potential dollar savings between fire/life/safety costs, and all the other fringe City Services is quite glaring.

This is the same issue the state is dealing with as well, as its union labor costs are the 800 pound gorilla in the room.

I hope Mountain View earnestly addresses this issue directly and honestly, as opposed to distract itself with the peripheral savings that can be had elsewhere. Its not an easy job, but this needs to be addressed sooner, rather than later, as these cost are projected to increase over the long term and will not go away.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by RealitySlap
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Feb 24, 2010 at 2:38 pm

I hear medical cannabis dispensaries generate quite a lot of tax revenue, AND they're legal in this state. Ask Santa Cruz how they've benefited, and have done it all without the bogus repercussions that
those opposed to such medicinal outlets try and scare people into thinking will happen.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Big Al
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 24, 2010 at 8:30 pm

Every incumbent politician across the board should be voted out of office next and every election. Only then will politicians and aspiring politicians get the message.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 25, 2010 at 2:12 pm

Hardin from Cuesta Park is my kind of "aspiring politicians" Big Al. Note that he has ordered the cities problems by "the biggest gorilla" - which is quite appropriate. How may firemen make over $200,000 a year in our city? What retirement liability is accrued for each year they work? This retirement liability has increased XXX in the last 8 years.

This is not to say the city manager is perfect, but I believe he has taken a 5% self imposed pay cut! Now, is the fire union going to do the same? (I apologize if they have offered). Will the fire union accept a 21 -> 19 "minimum staffing" level as suggested? [the public should make their views clear to our firefighters directly]


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