Dear Editor – Fiscally Irresponsible Budget Tonight

Dear Editor,
Let’s get basic. Any organization’s budget-household, business, government-will project the best estimate of income and expenses. If a budget indicates the expenses will always exceed income, then that organization must fail. That is exactly the budget that will be presented tonight. Is that the best that the staff can do? Does the staff have reasonable recommendations to get out of this quagmire?

First, let us look at what is off-the-budget books. There are two massive debt-reserves that are not funded, benefits for retirees and preventive maintenance. Together they are far in excess of $100,000,000. Another is the potential likelihood that the State of California will again take Redevelopment Funds for the City to cover its deficit.

One accounting trick that is proposed is to reduce the prudent reserve from 30% to 20%. What is the point, if you take into consideration the off-the-books unfunded accounts?

The only focus is that the City’s reserves are sinking like a stone and there should be a call for review and action—

1. Review the fees for the four enterprise funds (bus transportation, sanitation, etc.). These funds/department are set up so that income and expenses match. In the history of Culver City, this has rarely occurred. Sanitation costs are going up exponentially since we are running out of landfills. Fuel and utility costs are expected to exceed inflation for several years.
2. Los Angeles does not allow overtime unless there is rare exceptions. For example, Los Angeles Policeman do not receive overtime or overtime pay. Culver City’s overtime budget for police is about $1,000.000 per year.
3. See the three soon-to-be empty lots in Sunkist Park where the fire station is for about $1,000,000 after soil cleanup and building removal.
4. Add parking meters on Sepulveda on Washington Blvds etc, to both sides of the streets.
5. Reduce the number and frequency of commissions, boards, commitiees. If ACOR disappeared, for example, would anyone notice?
6. Outsource more!
7. Close City Hall on all Fridays.
8. How much money is the Plunge costing the City? Are the fees reasonable?
9. Reduce unneeded employees.
10. Run a cost study for parking meter/ticket services. Total cost vs net income. How many people/vehicles are optimal for the City?
11. Publish financial information quarterly. This has not been done since the 1st quarter of last years budget 9/30/09. There should be an action plan of the reserves are found to be in jeopardy.

Sincerely,

Paul Ehrlich

www.culvercitysymphony.org

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