News

City passes budget, but waits on union deal

The 2011-12 city budget was passed unanimously with little fanfare Tuesday night, although consequential job cuts may be necessary if ongoing union negotiations do not go as hoped.

The City Council passed a general fund budget that fills a $2 million gap. It is expected that 75 percent will come from both "operational efficiencies" and $1.2 million from annual revenue from a new Google lease of city land. But the final $500,000 could come from job cuts, or if the city's unions agree to it, a $500,000 reduction of the $3.8 million in pay and benefit increases otherwise expected next year.

If the city's unions cannot agree on a way to save all $500,000, up to three jobs may have to be eliminated and hours reduced for two others. Two employees could lose their jobs: an assistant at the Center for Performing Arts and a public safety public outreach coordinator. A vacant position for a community services officer would be eliminated, while the deputy zoning administrator would be reduced to half-time.

A full time deputy fire marshal position would remain filled by a half-time employee, despite the fact that the city would continue to be behind on fire inspections of multi-family housing as a result, said Fire Chief Bradley Wardle.

Interim City Manager Melissa Stevenson Dile said she was hopeful that the negotiations would achieve the $500,000 goal, adding that council gave city staff the power to decide what budget cuts would be necessary if the goal was not met. She said staff would have to choose from a prioritized list of cuts the council approved putting the job cuts at the top of the list.

Utility rates increase

Because of higher costs from the city's water suppliers, water rates will increase by 20 percent this year. And because of some unusual savings with the Palo Alto treatment plant, sewer rates will decrease 5 percent.

Garbage and recycling rates will jump by 6 percent in the new budget, raising the cost of a 32-gallon residential garbage can by $1.15 per month to $20.10. The hike will cover a contractual cost increase with garbage contractor Recology (3.46 percent hike) and the increased cost of using Sunnyvale's SMART station (2.6 percent hike).

In related news, the council approved $150,000 to hire a consultant to put the city's garbage contract up for bid as Recology's contract expires in 2013. In 2003, council members expressed concern that the city's garbage contract had not been up for bid in over 60 years. Recology, previously known as Foothill Disposal, first signed an agreement with Mountain View in 1940 and has had contract extensions ever since.

Comments

Posted by Garbage, a resident of Rex Manor
on Jun 20, 2011 at 1:55 pm

Why does it take $150K to put out an RFQ for a garbage contract? Is it really one man year of work?


Posted by Steve, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jun 20, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Odd. We need to cut $500K from the budget, yet can drop $150K on consultants to put a contract to bid. Is no one in our enormous city staff capable?


Posted by Pun'd it, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jun 20, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Re: Mtn View vs. Foothill Disp, as recollected by former city attortney Martelo.
"Dicker is the same as negotiate"


Posted by jupierk, a resident of Gemello
on Jun 20, 2011 at 3:53 pm

who is worse? the city council or the labor unions? This is a tough one. We have a group of rogues running our city , catering to the rich corporations and ripping us common tax payers to pay themselves a hefty salary,pernsions, travel expenses, fine dining,etc..and the labor unions who want the same benefits as the city council and retire at the age of 50 and live healthy for another 40 to 50 years at tax payer's expense. And don't mind that the retired get hired at $200 an hour to do the same work in our city..Does anyone remember the retired librarian who was hired at $125 an hour.


Posted by BD, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 21, 2011 at 10:16 am

Posted by Steve, a resident of the Sylvan Park neighborhood, 19 hours ago: "Odd. We need to cut $500K from the budget, yet can drop $150K on consultants to put a contract to bid. Is no one in our enormous city staff capable?"

Apparently not, or they would have rebid the contract at least once in the last 60 years! That said, I support the use of consultants for this. The city staff isn't huge, and contracts this large and complex don't come up for bid very often. Keeping someone on staff full-time wouldn't make sense. Plus on a contract this old, the consultants are practically guaranteed to save the city 2x or 3x their fee.

And yes, speaking from experience, an RFP this complicated is likely to take about a person-year of work if it's done well, probably from a small team over several months. That will include up-front market research (I'll bet it's changed since WWII), bid writing, negotiation, and legal discussions with the winning company.


Posted by A Cortinas, a resident of Castro City
on Jun 21, 2011 at 1:53 pm

You could lay off the city workers, that have felony records. That would be a wise cost saving move! Saves the city money so they don't have to take a leave of absence to due time at Elmwood! What a great system!


Posted by Political Insider, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 21, 2011 at 2:34 pm

"Interim City Manager Melissa Stevenson Dile said she was hopeful that the negotiations would achieve the $500,000 goal"

My sources tell me this will never happen. The unions are content to wait and negotiate with a friendlier council. SEIU donated 3K to Alicia Crank in the last election. They are still hoping to buy more council candidates in the next election to carry their luggage.


Posted by UnNamed, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 21, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Political Insider must be a self appointed name because you are far off from knowing what is going on the inside ....time will tell. You might want to check your sources :)


Posted by Wondering, a resident of another community
on Jun 21, 2011 at 8:08 pm

"You could lay off the city workers, that have felony records. That would be a wise cost saving move! Saves the city money so they don't have to take a leave of absence to due time at Elmwood! What a great system!"

Any proof of the accusation or are you just bored?


Posted by James, a resident of Whisman Station
on Jun 22, 2011 at 11:40 am


The Chairman said today that budget cuts by state and local goverments have been a drag on the economic recovery. If the recovery stalls it's unlikely there will be revenues down the road needed to reduce budget deficits...


Posted by Hardin, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 22, 2011 at 1:16 pm

Let's hope the $500k savings that must be achieved by the unions is accomplished through modifications in pay and benefits, vs. layoffs. The latter is a short-term fix, while the former should be the strategy to align revenues with expenditures, and provide a city budget that is sustainable in the long term.

However, it is the modus operandi of unions to delay and wait out decisions, in an effort to gain a political advantage and a more union friendly environment. That's why I think its important to enforce negotiations with them to be time based, with deadlines and consequences for missing milestones and commitments.


Posted by Tony, a resident of Castro City
on Jun 30, 2011 at 9:41 am

How about the fact that the fire fighters secretly extended their contract, giving themselves a 3.5% pay increase, while the rest of thecity employees face cuts, loss of benefits, increases in costs, and no COLA's for the 3rd year in a row. Meanwhilem public safety keeps rippig you all off.

Why do we need a SWAT team? Pratice fighting fires in high rises? How may have you seen? Mandatory ovetime? Check the salary surveys, these public safety gang bangers are taking all the money, claiming they need $250,000 in overtime each, and getting away with it.

You sheep need to wake up. It's not the city worker that's kiling himself to keep up with the heavier workload that is stealing from you, it's the jackasses with guns and bagdes who threaten to arrest you if you video tape them or let your house burn because it's too dangerous to fight the fire. Go into the fire department and see any of their pictures where they're standing in fornt of fires taking pictures. Not one hose, not one fire extinguished.

Public safety has taken over the local government. Scott Vermeer has been appointed Asst. City Manager for Public Safety (new job, new paycheck) and his buddy Max Bosel is the Asst. City Manager in charge of negotiations. Gee, I wonder why public saftey keeps getting money and the rest of the staff is told to cut, cut, cut.

WAKE UP. You;re in a police state. Mountain View PD spend more time harrassing citizens and writing BS tickets instead of fighting crime. Fire fighters are too busy relaxing in their LazyBoy's and enjoying the free cable TV and Internet that you pay for for them. And you happily pay them three times eveyrone elses salary so you can have a pancake breakfast every once and a while and your kids can ride around on the trucks.


If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Touring the Southern California “Ivies:” Pomona and Cal Tech
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 5 comments | 2,871 views

Chai Brisket
By Laura Stec | 4 comments | 2,047 views

Couples: Parallel Play or Interactive Play?
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,213 views

Just say no
By Jessica T | 5 comments | 1,096 views

Questions for Council Candidates--Housing
By Steve Levy | 3 comments | 209 views