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.