Archive | March, 2015

League of Women Voters to talk about Brown Act – March 18, Chico Women’s Center

7 Mar
Found this notice in the Enterprise Record:

League of Women Voters of Butte County will host “Shine a Light on Government: Brown Bag It to the Brown Act” on March 18. It will be noon to 1:30 p.m. at Chico Women’s Club, 592 E. Third St.  Those attending may bring a bag lunch. The public may attend.

Let’s talk about the city’s spending problem – time for an intervention?

4 Mar

Here’s my kitchen table analysis of last night’s decision by council to put only half that “found” $4.8 million toward our deficit.

Let’s say I owe $7.8 million on my credit card. While cleaning my car one day, I find $4.8 million in the seat cushions.

I think that part of the analogy is good – Frank Field’s explanation just sounded like sloppy book keeping.  So, I drop a lot of change out of my pockets – same difference. When you’re dealing with somebody else’s money, it’s easy to get a little too comfortable being a slob, isn’t it?

Given – this found money doesn’t cover my whole bill, and we’ve gotten so used to living on credit these days. What’s a little debt, eh?  So I just keep on spending as I have, racking up the bills, and I think, “maybe I should use the found money for something extra…”

My son’s birthday just passed, and my husband’s birthday is around the corner. I would have liked to buy my son a new computer, they expect the kids to have all the latest technology for school these days. And, my husband likes to watch sports while he’s working around the house, I’d sure like to present him with a new tv for his shop, something big that he can see from the garden. 

And, frankly, like the city of Chico, I’ve continued to spend money.  “Necessity” dictated that I go out and buy that new washing machine. People expect you to be clean these days, just a couple of years ago the library tried to pass an ordinance that you couldn’t come in there with body odor. So, I’d added about $500 to my deficit before I’d even found the money!

At this point, most of my friends would be worried. I would be worried. That sounds, well, irresponsible. 

But the city of Chico has a list of stuff they’d already spent – sounded like Christmas came early down at the cop shop. The city had already been spending on fancy new gadgets for the police, even when they were still digging that 1,000 foot hole that dbski4it (sp?) was talking about in the comments section of the ER.  They hired three new police officers recently, with nothing but best wishes to pay for it.  

Do you think they already knew about this found money when they were on that spending binge?  Do you think the found money was concocted so they could give the cops those raises they’ve been negotiating in closed session?

Like I said,  last night’s meeting raised more questions than it answered.

 

Wow! City just found $4.8 million laying around the office! Under the couch cushions or what?

2 Mar
I’m too busy to talk about this right now, but I will say, this article raises more questions than it answers. Read it good.
Chico City Council to decide how to spend extra $4.8 million

What: Chico City Council meeting

When: 7:30 p.m. for council business

Where: 421 Main St., Council Chambers

Other details: Joint meeting with Airport Commission at 6:30 p.m. precedes regular City Council meeting

Chico >> What would you do with an extra $4.8 million?

The city of Chico will have such a decision to make Tuesday, as it is determines how to spend a surplus of funds revealed during the 2013-14 audit. Council directed staff to bring back a report on possible expenses during the development of the 2015-16 budget, and three options are being presented to the council.

The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m., an hour later than usual because the council will meet at 6:30 in a joint public meeting with the Airport Commission.

In his report to council, Administrative Service Director Frank Fields notes that while the one-time savings are very positive, more needs exist than the one-time money can meet. As the city continues its road to fiscal recovery, a strategic plan on how to spend these funds would continue those efforts.

“It’s simply imperative that we remember where this city was just under two years ago, and that council action has gone a long way to bring the city back on a path to fiscal health. However, the city is not fiscally healthy,” he wrote. “As a result, utilization of these one-time funds has to be done strategically and consistent with current fiscal policy.”

The city has already spent nearly half a million dollars on previously approved items that were unbudgeted. They include $190,000 for three new police officers, $120,00 on a waste franchising consultant, $120,000 to fix inadequate infrastructure in a flood-prone neighborhood, and $48,000 for repairs to Sycamore Pool.

That leaves about $4.4 million to be spent.

One proposal is to dedicate more than $4 million to reduce the city’s general fund deficit, which sits at $6.97 million. The remainder would include a fund balance carryover of $200,000 and $181,000 transfer to the Zone 1 Neighborhood Parks Fund.

The other two proposals would transfer far less to the deficit, for which an annual paying-down plan is already in place.

Most proposed additional spending would go toward about $450,000 in city maintenance, infrastructure and equipment. Both proposals include $85,000 for a streets condition assessment, $75,000 for city-wide time-keeping and police department advanced scheduler program, $74,000 for a laser mapping system for the Police Department to use at crime scenes and major accidents, $50,000 for LED street lights at critical intersections, and $50,000 for city hall monitoring equipment.

The only non-city expense in both proposals is $25,000 for the Chico branch of the Butte County Library. The city reduced its annual contribution from $100,000 to $75,000 for this fiscal year, and the county opted not to backfill the funding gap in hopes a new agreement could be made later in the year, which means that without additional funds, the library will be forced to close Mondays and open two hours later Tuesdays through Thursdays, writes county Chief Administrative Officer Paul Hahn in a letter to council.

Councilor Sean Morgan said he has some concerns about that allocation and its fairness to other community agencies that received less funding from the city for this fiscal year.

“If we are going to look at one organization’s request for public funds that is used to getting them, we have to look at everybody,” he said. “It’s not fair to do it one at a time.”

The one difference between the two remaining proposals is one would reduce the general fund deficit by about $2.5 million, and use the remaining $1.5 million as transfers — $200,000 to the airport fund, $181,000 to neighborhood parks, and $1.2 million as a general fund balance carryover.

The other proposal would reduce the deficit by $2.3 million and spend $1.6 million on $500,000 to the airport fund, $181,000 to neighborhood parks, and $200,000 transfers each to technology replacement, fleet replacement, facility maintenance, general plan fund and as a general fund balance carryover.

The $4.8 million in excess revenue was the result of both revenue enhancement and expenditure savings. One factor was the 2013-14 budget did not includes estimates of impacts of the city’s second round of employee layoffs and negotiated salary and benefit concessions, which resulted in $1.1 million in savings from the Police Department, $630,000 from general government and $300,000 from public works. Additional savings were realized from the Fire Department and Parks Department.

The city also received an additional $560,000 in sales tax revenue, $325,000 in increased property tax revenue, and $800,000 in miscellaneous revenue related to a property tax administration refund and fund contributions related to waste hauler negotiations.

Contact reporter Ashley Gebb at 896-7768