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All California Cities Facing Budget Shortfalls? Not All.

Alameda civic leaders assure us that all California cities are in the same boat, facing budget shortfalls, and cutbacks, and that there is nothing peculiar to Alameda’s dire circumstances. But over the last 12 years while the City of Alameda dug itself further into debt with Alameda Power & Telecom, and other mistakes, Citrus Heights, outside of Sacramento, has been socking the cash away.

As was reported on CNN, and again on KTXL TV in Sacramento, the City of Citrus Heights has a budget surplus, and a whopping reserve of more than $35 million. In an ironic twist, the article says that Citrus Heights “could not rely on acres of new development to raise money.” Perhaps that, in fact, is what has saved them. Alameda, by contrast, has had dozens of development projects over the past 12 years, some fueled by tax-increment financing, which took $3.79 million from the General Fund last year, and look at the sorry state we’re in.

Citrus Heights has never borrowed money, and paid cash to build its police station and a new $11 million community center. And the city administrators multitask – the city clerk is also the H.R. director. Alameda has routinely rolled over existing debt of all sorts over the past 12 years, rather than retiring it, and Alameda has outstanding debt secured by its police station.

Perhaps we should be working to lure Citrus Heights’ City Manager to Alameda to put our affairs in order.

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