$780 Million City Budget Deficit!
Business as usual has got to change
•••••••••• April 6, 2023 ••••••••••
As you might have read our City Controller has an estimated $290 million deficit for the coming fiscal year, $90.1 million more than projected in January. For the next two fiscal years, the shortfall is projected at $779.8 million. As Ronald Reagan said, "There you go again!.
Tech companies have laid off thousands of employees. Many have left our City or are working remotely, resulting in an unprecedented office vacancy. This has eroded our business and sales tax and is reducing the City's largest tax revenue source which is our property tax. There are over 25 million square feet of vacant commercial spaces in our city. Commercial landlords, especially those who have purchased in the last 10 years, are seeking huge reductions in their property values. Times have changed and City Hall must adapt accordingly.
At this point, the City has no game plan other than to ask City departments to cut up to 5% percent of their budgets to balance the City's budget. Or to put it another way — live in the present. No plan for the future. It is just dumb to cut every department across the board — especially revenue-generating departments. By the way, asking the Police Department to cut 5% when they have just approved a supplemental appropriation of $25 Million for this year is also not too swift.
I have a better idea. It is called accountability. We need to run the City like a real business and stop the waste. The City must cut unnecessary fat to ensure that vital City services like the Police and Fire department's needs are met. We need to prioritize essential services and programs and ensure they have sufficient funding before lower-priority programs are funded.
It is not an easy job walking around with a target on your back. Luckily, we are only down 500 officers, considering the abuse they have taken over the past several years.”
Our City safety is crucial. Two years ago City Hall defunded the Police by $120M, disrespected them, and handcuffed them with unnecessary policies. This is one of the reasons why no one wants to be a policeman. Many policemen have retired or have transferred to other jurisdictions where there is less politics. It is not an easy job walking around with a target on your back. Luckily, we are only down 500 officers, considering the abuse they have taken over the past several years.
I want to thank all law enforcement for their service to our City. Our City needs you.
I have an idea, be like university coaches and recruit top players. Since they are not coming to you, go to them. Go out to prospects who are ROTC, marines, army, etc.
We need to analyze and audit the entire City operation. I cannot stress the fact that the City must audit the revenue practices of our revenue-generating City Departments to insure all revenue sources are identified. I guarantee they are not. When I worked for the City we brought in hundreds of millions to our City that were being missed. I have identified over $200 million in revenues from currently missed assessments, taxes and fees.
Audit non-profit agencies and City contracts to insure that services are being provided and determine if they are even necessary. I have been saying this for the last 20 years. I laugh every time I hear City Hall reps talk about accountability — since nothing ever comes of it. Quit the talk and do it.
I could go on all day and know I sound like a broken record. But the bottom line is this –
business as usual at City Hall has got to change.
John Farrell Broker/Realtor® – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former Assistant Assessor – Budget & Special Projects, Westside resident - firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 6, 2023