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.