“High Noon” and still no California Budget Agreement

High Noon has passed. As we enter another week with state issued IOU’s the California Legislature and Governor have yet to approve a state budget. The latest news is that the “big five” failed to meet last night and are to be back in negotiations right now. The down side of this prolonged delay is the impact on the 480 incorporated cities in our state that are trying to discover what raiding of their coffers can be expected.

I won’t even venture into any plans to amend Prop 98 with scenarios of that change’s impact on our 967 school districts which alphabetically range from Unified in Cerritos to Yucaipa-Calimesa Join Unified in Yucaipa.

So my advise to every local elected city official is rather simple.

Place on hold all nonessential expenditures and only assure your residents that you will continue to provide basic necessities such as public safety (including both police and fire protection), maintained traffic signals and street lights, trash pickup and no potholes.
All that other feel good and “special interest” stuff will need to be placed on a back burner until we know the full impact of the “borrowing” of city funds by our legislature that we bank on each and every year.
I would place a freeze on any new Capital Improvement Projects, CIP’s and hiring decisions until the state budget is ratified and we know how much the state plans to “borrow” and for how long.

In Mission Viejo, a few years ago we modified one of our streets (Montanoso) to compete with Lombard Street in San Francisco. This project was created to slow down speeders on a street with around a dozen homes. As there was some funds left over in the CIP instead of closing out that CIP and putting the money into our General Fund our city staff now wants to spend all of that money plus double that sum using reserve funds bringing this latest vital project to $100,000. They now want to tweak the project.
I would not consider this to be a “vital” project but I assure you that it will be approved even as our city’s proposed budget is not balanced. Well, I guess you can call it balanced if you take millions from your reserves to satisfy someone’s appetite. Reserves should not be utilized for nonessential expenditures.

Juice readers. It’s your turn. Feel free to add what you perceive as local provided “wants v. needs” so that we can all chime in be it to support or oppose your additions to my list of basic services.

About Larry Gilbert