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City manager says budget is on the line

Original post made on Feb 19, 2009

In a presentation Tuesday, Kevin Duggan said the city faces a nearly $6 million general fund deficit next year. He is working to keep the economic recession from tarnishing Mountain View's finances and hurting city services.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, February 19, 2009, 11:13 AM

Comments (20)

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Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 19, 2009 at 2:18 pm

I can just see them sitting in their $70 million pink palace wondering how they will deal with the $6 million short fall.


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Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 19, 2009 at 2:25 pm

Clinton bragged about how he reduced the size of government as measured by headcount. What he actually did was outsource the work, so that the total number of people supported by taxpayers actually went up. The federal budget rose something like 80% on his watch.

Mountain View has reduced headcount since 1991. That's nice. So, Duggan, how's the budget been since then?


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Posted by eric
a resident of another community
on Feb 19, 2009 at 3:44 pm

USA, you are of course aware that Mtn View is one of the best run cities anywhere, and has one of the best bond ratings for a city its size in the country.

You're really drawing some relevance to the city hall development 20 YEARS ago to a budget hit today? You're also no doubt aware of the business growth-- and subsequent revenue growth- in downtown since the redevelopment, right?


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Posted by Daniel DeBolt
Mountain View Voice Staff Writer
on Feb 19, 2009 at 3:57 pm

Daniel DeBolt is a registered user.

USA,
In recent years the city budget has grown with revenues. This is hardly controversial or troubling as the city has always come in with cash to spare at the end of the year - at least since Duggan took over in the mid 1980s. Under Duggan, the city has been very conservative in its budgeting, made evident by that fact that Mountain View is one of the few cities in the state that have a Triple AAA bond rating.

If you not convinced that Duggan is conservative steward of the city's money, just ask a council member or a union leader how he is about starting costly projects or increasing employee compensation. They will all same the same thing: he is very conservative. And he does it while facing the fact that he could be fired any given Tuesday by the city council.

As to your comments about outsourcing, the city does no unusual outsourcing. In fact, the IT department was brought in-house after there were problems with the contractor last year. Occasionally large projects are taken on that staff can't handle or are not qualified to do, such as the city's general plan update.


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Posted by Bernie Brightman
a resident of North Whisman
on Feb 21, 2009 at 11:50 am

I'm not surprised at all since the city council often mismanages our money. Besides a train station building that serves no purpose and provides no revenue, they took a short term bribe of $4M from the Palo Alto Medical Foundation that pays us no taxes instead of putting in at El Camino and 85 a business that would contribute revenue every year.


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Posted by eric
a resident of another community
on Feb 21, 2009 at 10:29 pm

...and shortly therafter fast-tracked a revenue home run across town.


So, we dont like quality health care, Bernie? Probably not a fan of good schools, too?


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Posted by Jon Wiener
a resident of another community
on Feb 22, 2009 at 1:15 am

Schools don't contribute any tax revenue. The city should replace them with hotels.


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Posted by eric
a resident of another community
on Feb 22, 2009 at 11:43 am

yes. And build casinos and brothels on our parks


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Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 23, 2009 at 1:21 pm

The problem is and has been for a long time that the city council is more interested in saving the planet, hugging trees, and protecting illegals than actually running the city, which ironically is their job. Saving whales is all good and fine as long as they first get their job done -- which is not happening.

Look at the agenda for the meeting tomorrow night (Feb 24). There is the HSR silliness, solar panels along 85, the euphemistic "Environmental Sustainability Action Plan", the discussion to find ways to spend the federal "stimulus" money. There is some water quality issues and a budget report which sort of gets at actually running the city, but that's about it. Where is the discussion of ways cut expenses or to increase "revenue"? You would think that $6 mil would at least get a line item on the agenda.

Also missing are all the other issues of actually running the city. Is there really absolutely nothing to talk about the police, fire, roads, street lights, sidewalks, zoning, merchant support, etc.?


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Posted by Bernie Brightman
a resident of North Whisman
on Feb 23, 2009 at 3:26 pm

People who describe themselves as "from another community" sure have a lot of things to say about Mountain View...

Something wrong with establishing a solid economic basis *before* going after the frills?


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Posted by Jon Wiener
a resident of another community
on Feb 23, 2009 at 10:34 pm

Most of those (relatively benign) things are on the consent calendar. That means staff expects them to be approved with little or no discussion. You can tell because they begin with the number 4.

On the other hand, the items staff expects to merit fuller discussion are HSR and the adoption of a one-year and five-year economic development plan. The latter one appears on the second page of the agenda on the city's website, so you may have missed it.

As far as HSR is concerned, I'm not sure who "silliness" is directed at, but I think it would be irresponsible of the council not to discuss HSR, given the cost of grade separation and the potential use of eminent domain.

The city has a AAA bond rating and award-winning budget (seriously, there are awards for budgets) because the it generally isn't short-sighted or frilly.

And yes Bernie, I am from Los Altos and live in Los Angeles, though I hope to move back. Feel free to discount my opinions as much as you like; I won't be offended.


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Posted by smart growther
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 24, 2009 at 8:43 am

IMHO, Mr DeBolts comment are exactly on target. The city finances are very conservative. Mr. Duggan does an outstanding job and I would hope he remains on board for several more years.


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Posted by eric
a resident of another community
on Feb 24, 2009 at 10:09 am

Bernie, are you referring to my comments? I've lived and done business in Mtn View for decades. I dont think its anyones business precisely where in MV I live, hence the 'other community' tag.

My point was, quality health care and schools do add to the economic bottom line. Mtn View remains in much better shape than most cities (a few percentage point hole in the budget after years of running very nicely in the black, and a city manager that is proactively looking to trim fat to compensate suits me fine). We CAN afford "frills". We HAVE a solid base.


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Posted by Tony
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 25, 2009 at 4:56 pm

You all do realize that the City Council is made up of citizens, not employees. Citizens that you voted for. So for those of you who don't like the council, you kind of did this to yourself, right?

And the truth is, the City Council is so afraid of losing votes, they do ANYTHING to make the citizens happy, including get in the way of city staff when they're trying to do their jobs. Thanks to your votes, you got the exact group of people you wanted.

You can do a better job? Step up.


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Posted by Tony
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 25, 2009 at 4:59 pm

You want to know where all your money is going? Why don't you ask for an audit of the amount of over time hours for the public safety staff. There is ahuge scam going on involving all public safety staff in all cities, including the jails, to rake in hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime by faking sickness and taking advantage of the minimum staffing rules that the powerful fire and PD unions have enacted.

Stop the unions, stop the bleeding. No more overtime means an reduction in city expendatures by at least $3 - 4 million. Hmm, that's most of what we need.

Don't even get me started on the abuse of the workmans comp claims...


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Posted by Tony
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 25, 2009 at 5:04 pm

Want to see the citizens all run and scream?

"We need to reduce some of these free services that we offer, like the free senior center, the free Internet access, the fee-free recreation programs for residents, the CITY FUNDED cetner for the performing arts, etc,etc"

WAAAAAAAAAA, our overwhelming sense of entitlement makes me want to ask for more but pay less!!!

WAAAAAAAAAAA! I know we're in tough times, but I should get everything for free!!!

WAAAAAAAAAAA! I don't want to sacrifice but I sure have a lot of comments about things that I know nothing about!!

Grow up. Help us get through this or watch all the good people who run this city for you leave and you can deal with the shake at the bottom of the bag. They're doing there best. Go to a city council meeting and participate instead of sitting at home hacking away at a keyboard.


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Posted by Anthony
a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 25, 2009 at 5:07 pm

The council has no control over the flow of money. Mountain View is an incorporated city and is run by the City Manager, Kevin Duggan. Not the council. They only make recommendations and approve ideas brought up by the staff, not actaully spend the money.

Crack open the city charter and read it before you comment on something you don't understand.


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Posted by What?
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 1, 2009 at 6:57 pm

"Stop the unions, stop the bleeding. No more overtime means an reduction in city expendatures by at least $3 - 4 million. Hmm, that's most of what we need." - Do you really believe this?

Don't even get me started on the abuse of the workmans comp claims." - You're telling us that the city is having fund issues because employee are faking injuries. I think you've been reading to many conspiracy books or articles.

This city is not in a finacial crisis...the city just needs to cut a few programs. Maybe now that the police arrested their soccer coach they have a reason to cut a program. Why is the police department spending money on a program that should really be part of the school? Shouldn't the police be solving crime, writing tickets and catching bad guys and the schools should be doing the education and after school athletic programs. Didn't I read the comments on another article about needing more police downtown? Maybe?

I do have to say much of the money the city manager wants to hold on to has been tied up in "projects." Time to look at those spending again (Stop anything we haven't started - Cuesta Annex, parking lot development across from the libary, new parks, Stevens Creek Trail)... Hey City Manager, cut some projects and services and you'll be even.


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Posted by Rene
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 2, 2009 at 2:55 pm

I agree with Tony, Mountain View residents (and non-residents) expect a lot from Mountain View. Maybe it's time MV starts charging its residents and non-residents similar fees being charged in other communities. Or maybe MV stops all the projects that have been initiated by the public to make the City a better place. People, you can't have it all. You should be so lucky to live in such a great community with a very responsible City Manager.


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Posted by marie
a resident of Waverly Park
on Mar 11, 2009 at 1:24 pm

Hmmm.

"the free Internet access, the fee-free recreation programs for residents, the CITY FUNDED cetner for the performing arts"--I believe Google provides the Internet access, and even pays the city a nominal amount to rent the space on the light poles. When my kids take recreation programs, we pay for them -- I don't know who is getting them for free. The city probably does subsidize the performing arts center -- at least the mainentance, etc. -- but as a resident I have paid for every event I have ever attended there. Outside groups rent the theater from the city. TheatreWorks is a non-profit organization that does its own fund raising, it's not funded by the city. And I do think that services at a Senior Center should be free. So I'm not sure what free services you would eliminate to save the big bucks?


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