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City Adopts "Hail Mary" Budget - Asks Unions For 5% "Give-Back"
July 09, 2003

One day late, on the first day of FY 2003-2004 (July 1), the Richmond City Council adopted a $94 million General Fund budget with a diminished reserve without knowing where $5 million of revenue is going to come from. If the additional revenue, or comparable reductions in expenditures, are not found, the most obvious casualty will be fire protection, with predictions looming of two to three station closures and layoffs of dozens of firefighters. The Police department would also be affected, as would possibly other departments.

Already, other City services have been slashed. For example, the crews who care for parks and street landscaping have been cut to a fraction of what was previously available.

Right now, the city manager is looking for the solution in one place - a 5% reduction in compensation for City employees across the board, possibly including himself and the City Council.

How did we get to this place? Everyone knows about the sluggish economy and the State of California $34 billion budget shortfall, some of which is being passed along to the cities. That is certainly a contributing cause. The main culprit, however, is the skyrocketing cost of salaries and benefits for public employees. When the City Council adopted new pension plans last year, we had an opportunity to build in inflationary controls with cost sharing. But we didn't. Budget projections by City staff told us we could afford to go it alone, and so we did.

Now, we are having to ask for it back, and we'll need al the luck we can muster.

For a more detailed explanation, see the attached PDF file.