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Alameda Residents May Face Higher Local Taxes to Fill Future Budget Deficits

Opening last night’s Alameda City Council discussion on the 2011-2012 budget, Assistant City Manager Lisa Goldman told Council, “We are facing $7 million to $9 million deficits for the next 5 years, absent corrective actions…These cuts [in the 2011-12 budget] will not be enough to sustain us indefinitely…Our updated forecast which you’ll see this evening shows that we will continue to spend more than we take in for the next 5 years.”

As a consequence, one of the staff recommendations was to poll Alameda residents to gauge their support local tax ballot measures to help clear the projected deficits.

Under the budget that was approved by Council last night, residents will see shorter library hours, and libraries reducing expenditures on subscriptions and materials. The animal shelter will be outsourced to a different city, or to a local non-profit after November 1st.

The police department will eliminate nine positions, including four vacant police officer slots, taking a $1.3 million, or 5% cut, while the fire department will see an $800,000, or 3.5% cut, with the elimination of one Deputy Fire Chief, and the reclassification of a second Deputy Fire Chief to Division Chief. Four non-sworn positions will also be eliminated, and spending on materials and supplies will be cut.

To balance the budget for this year, the City will dip into its reserve funds.

In the next five years, the City of Alameda projects recurring annual budget deficits ranging from $3.9 million in Fiscal Year 2012-13, to $5.3 million in 2015-16, at which point, reserves would be exhausted, and the City of Alameda would be in the hole to the tune of $4.2 million, and effectively broke.

In addition to trying to stem the financial bleeding by feeling out resident support for additional taxes, the City intends to intensify negotiations with employee bargaining units regarding additional cost cutting measures. Budget planning for next years budget will begin in July of this year, and will include workshops that invite the public to weigh-in on budget priorities.

The budget was approved on a 4-0 vote, with Councilmember Doug deHaan abstaining, citing his desire for the City to begin in earnest to take the necessary steps to reverse the trend projected for the City’s finances over the next five years.

The City’s budget presentation is included below.

2011-06-28 4-A Power Point

10 comments to Alameda Residents May Face Higher Local Taxes to Fill Future Budget Deficits

  • Dave

    I don’t think anyone will lose their job. The departments are eliminating unfilled positions and easily available contracting ability.

  • hobnob

    Depends on what the higher tax is going to pay for. I mean if the city can clearly state what that extra 1% or what not is going to be used for, I guess I’d consider higher taxes… however, if they cannot clearly show what that extra 1% will go to what bucket, I will not support higher taxes.

  • Look at what happened with the Measure A funds- They’re still trying to decide how to use them. We need to spend the money we have responsibly, not beg for more to spend willy-nilly.

  • Karen

    No support from me for additional taxes. What do they do with the taxes I pay already?

    The streets are full of potholes. The police don’t catch speeders, even in school zones. That stupid movie theater doesn’t pay taxes on tickets.

    City salaries are too high.

    It’s just a mess. It’s been run too long on the good-old-boy system.

    Too few people vote in Alameda, and many that do don’t bother to be informed about the issues. Pathetic.

    And no, I don’t have a solution. But it’s making me sick.

  • Maria

    No support from me for additional taxes either. City salaries
    much too high. I blame the Democratic Party also. They support candidates who don’t deserve it, who are in developer and good ole boy pockets. Adam: thank you for speaking out last night! I watched the whole meeting in dismay.

  • Rusty

    With all the Actives siphoning off what they can (e.g. free gas), sitting on their wages, and perks and those Actives who dodge what they owe with their deceit the only thing left is to tax us slobs.

  • a94501er

    The Library Director makes approx $200k/year … not sure what she does to justify that kind of pay.

  • Barb

    It is time to consider regionalizing public safety, the library and every city department. Why should small cities re-invent the wheel? Berkeley with its emphasis on people and services is in the black. No deficits. Our department heads and managers go to other cities and see how much they pay their library director or City Manager, and come back and say, if you don’t pay me this much, I am leaving!!

    Time to say LEAVE. If the department only has 10 to 25 employees, do we really need 3 levels of management or for a director paid $200k plus 50% more in benefits per year?

    Alameda County Fire and the Sheriff do excellent work. Much better than our local departments. The City of Dublin contracts with the Sheriff. Alameda should look into contracting for all except maybe public works/parks. All one has to do is walk, drive or look, and you can see that public works have declined to a point where many of our streets are unsafe to drive or sidewalks to walk on.

    It is time to look at things from a business and efficiency point of view. We cannot afford the luxury of duplicating services that are not fully or optimally maximized, in each City in the County. Certainly there are some areas where we can share with other cities. Or the County. Time to look at unincorporated areas in the County and see why they do so very well and Alameda does not.

  • 94502

    Alameda is losing it.

  • nomoretaxes

    What Barb said………

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