With the City Council scheduled to discuss the city’s proposed budget for the 2012-13 and 2013-2014 fiscal years at its June 18 meeting, Councilmember John D’Amico held a meeting with residents to discuss this budget as part of his periodic "Coffee with the Councilman" meetings.
About 15 people showed up for the meeting in Plummer Park on Saturday morning. They were grateful for the chance to discuss the budget, but questioned why there were not public meetings devoted to the topic, much like was held for the General Plan.
A specific item that had many attendees concerned is a proposed $212,000 feasibility study for moving City Hall to the southeast corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and San Vicente Boulevard, where the Sheriff’s station currently stands.
Attendees questioned why the city would even consider moving City Hall when it is planning to build a $16 million automated parking garage behind the current City Hall. They also wondered why the idea of moving City Hall has never been broached publicly before and what other sites might serve as alternatives.
The question of lowering parking fees was raised. Some wondered if the city should re-bid the contract for parking enforcement since the city currently pays the company doing the enforcement $27 per ticket written.
The wages and benefits for city staff also brought questions. One person wanted to know why these costs are rising when other cities are struggling to pay their staff. Also troubling was city employees who are retired and collecting pensions, yet still working for the city in consulting positions. Some called this “double-dipping.”
Others expressed concerns about the loss of redevelopment agency money and why that isn’t discussed in the budget. Others wanted more details about the bonds the city issued to finance the proposed $41 million renovation of Plummer Park.
D’Amico wasn’t there to provide answers so much as to listen to the concerns and then raise them during the City Council’s discussion. He told Patch it was a “really great conversation” and that it raised important questions about how the process in general is handled.
“Is the budget the place for political decisions or for budgetary decisions? Are they the same or are they different?” D’Amico said. “When it’s a policy decision, how is it best to have that discussion? Is it better to do it separate from a budgetary discussion or in tandem with it? Or both?”
Copies of the city’s budget are available for viewing at the . A PDF of the budget can be viewed by clicking here, however, be warned it is a 272-page document.