Fairfield council to discuss budget cuts totaling $5.5 million

By From page A1 | March 30, 2012

Rick Vaccaro

Rick Vaccaro

FAIRFIELD — Street maintenance, code enforcement, lobbying activities and Fairfield Center for Creative Arts activities are some of the Fairfield services facing reductions because of the city’s latest budget problems.

A list with $5.5 million in proposed cuts is going to the City Council for possible action Tuesday. The council meets at 6 p.m. in its chamber at 1000 Webster St.

“These are desperate times,” Vice Mayor Rick Vaccaro said Thursday. “These are desperate times right now.”

Fairfield proposes to cut 8.5 full-time positions and 25 part-time positions. The proposed cuts released Thursday by the city include:

  • Police Department reductions in overtime and the loss of a community services officer, codes enforcement officer and property specialist. Such cuts would further hamper the department’s ability to proactively prevent and investigate crimes, respond to federal and state mandates and manage the department, according to a city report.
  • Reduce Fire Department overtime by assigning the sixth engine company to fill in for overtime shifts arising from sickness, vacation, furlough and injury.
  • Transfer $2.9 million in gas tax money for street maintenance to the general fund to offset the costs to operate and maintain traffic signals, street lights and traffic signs. City Manager Sean Quinn said that leaves about $1.5 million for street maintenance in the coming fiscal year, below the city’s target of $4 million and the $7 million necessary to meet street maintenance needs.
  • Eliminate virtually all city support for the Center for Creative Arts. The downtown theater would still be available for rent, but without any support from box office staff, theater technicians and house managers.
  • Reduce lobbying at the federal level by not renewing a contract with the Ferguson Co. The company over the years has helped secure money for the Police Activities League and Place to Be After Three programs, among other things, according to the report. The city would continue supporting federal lobbying efforts to advocate for Travis Air Force Base and regional transportation funding.
  • Reduce the number of city planners from five to four. This would lead to delays in processing development applications, according to the report.

The City Council could pass the staff recommendations. Or it could decide to come up with some alternate budget cuts of its own.

“I always look for alternatives if it means saving somebody’s job,” Vaccaro said. “I don’t know if there are any other alternatives at this point.”

Also Tuesday, the council will consider declaring a fiscal emergency. That would allow it to place a sales tax measure on the November ballot. Without such a declaration, Fairfield would have to wait until its next regular municipal elections in 2013 to have a ballot measure.

The council has yet to decide if it wants to go ahead with a sales tax measure. City Council members John Mraz and Catherine Moy are on a City Council subcommittee exploring the possibility.

“It’s just the first step of the process,” Quinn said.

But a city report said still more cuts would be needed unless the city can get more revenues. Among the possibilities are eliminating most if not all code enforcement and crime-, drug- and gang-prevention activities, eliminating most if not all street maintenance, reducing fire services, closing or severely limiting operating hours at such community facilities as the Fairfield Senior Center and the Sports Center and Aquatics Complex at Allan Witt Park, and outsourcing all of the city’s planning and building activities.

“I know no one likes taxes, but we need it,” Vaccaro said. “We’ve never been in a situation like this before, but we’re in it now. . . . I know it’s not something people want to hear, but it’s a reality at this point and people have to understand that.”

Fairfield’s latest fiscal challenges come in the wake of California’s decision to dissolve redevelopment agencies as of Feb. 1. Redevelopment agency money is no longer available to pay part or all of some salaries or repay million of dollars in loans to the city general fund.

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929, or [email protected]

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.

Discussion | 20 comments

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  • Will City Council ask?March 29, 2012 - 6:40 pm

    Why we're paying our City Manager more than the Majority leadership of the United States Senate and House? Will that be on this Tuesday's agenda?

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  • JagMarch 30, 2012 - 8:30 am

    Are we bankrupt? No then it is not a fiscal emergency and you should not be allowed to put a tax measure on the ballot without going thru the proper procedure but if you want to play that card go ahead in case you have not notice Solano county still has the highest employment rate in the bay area due to poor planning and I am willing to bet a tax measure would go down in flames, I for one would help in a campaign to keep it out, the way I see it we pay for our police and fire department our gas tax should stay with the street department and everything else like PAL and the arts (really) along with the pool muse be paid for by the individual if they want it not our tax money,

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  • Typical County WorkerMarch 30, 2012 - 8:34 am

    It was stated a while back that we need to pay these people lots of money in order to get good workers. We can see that worked out well. They should have a pay scale for all government employees like they do for the federal government and the military. City managers would get a certain amount (with minimal adjustments for location) and have a take it or leave it attitude. I am sure there would be some very qualified individuals willing to jump at it even with the less income.

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  • FixFairfield.OrgMarch 30, 2012 - 8:46 am


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  • Will City Council ask?March 30, 2012 - 11:13 am

    All these employees need to have their salaries cut in half and OUR fiscal emergency would be over!

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  • know the factsMarch 30, 2012 - 11:45 am

    The fiscal emergency is 6 million dollars...you don't have enough employees to cut to even come close. What is your next idea?

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  • Will City Council ask?March 30, 2012 - 1:10 pm

    Your kidding right? Let me help you with some math...... I believe there's close to 400 city employees. So let's say we take a conservative annual salary of $50,000 and multiple that by 400 employees. That's $20 million dollars! The City needs to cut these exorbinate salaries and quit trying to tax residents out of their home!

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  • know the factsMarch 30, 2012 - 1:36 pm

    So what you are saying is only the employees should take a cut, and you and all the other citizens that live here pay nothing? Yea, that might draw a howl of protest. Another assumption; only about a third of employees make 75K or so a year, the rest are about 50K or so. So, they get cut 50 percent? You can't be serious? The employees have taken cuts, many have been laid off, and you need to either cut most services, or raise revenue (taxes). These are the only 2 options left, or a blending of both.

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  • Will City Council ask?March 30, 2012 - 2:46 pm

    "Citizens that live here pay nothing"...yeah ok, let's go with that. For City residents things are really simple to understand.....Our City officials have made a mess of OUR finances and now we're suppose to believe that suddenly THEY know how to balance the books? Here's a example of what I'm talking about, Every year our City presents a 10 year financial plan to the citizenry that's good for about 10 weeks? Why even waste the paper to publish this document annually? In my opinion...giving the City more money to mismanage isn't the answer!

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  • tweetsMarch 30, 2012 - 1:45 pm

    Fire the person/people responsible for configuring the stop lights in this town. I have not seen such a mess as i have in the last 5 years. Everywhere you go you are at a stop light and if you are the only one turning it will take at least 3 cycles before you go. I would mention all the problem lights but someone needs to get off the rear ends and look at every intersection.Its backed up at waterman and hilborn in both directions. Its backed up east bound airbase and claybank at the left turn signal onto claybank. You use to double light that turn, now your are double lighting eastbound left turn onto claybank which is causing backed up on west bound into the flow of traffic going straight. I just see all my money being evaporated in my gas tank because you cant get it right! Recently i read that you think you finally programed the signals in this towm. Give me a brake,actually all i do is brake in this city and its costing me a fortune. Bring someone in that knows what their doing.

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  • know the factsMarch 30, 2012 - 3:54 pm

    I am not arguing with you, just trying to figure out your thoughts. But several things come into play here. We stood idley by while our gas tax was taken by Sacramento. We stood silent while our vehicle license fees was taken by legislators, and we died on the vine when they took our redevelopment funds. Now we blame the city and its' employees. Every city almost without exception is facing these problems. Cutting employees pay by half makes as much sense as cutting private workers pay by the same percentage...nonsensical. The issue is now what are we going to do about it? Have a local tax that benefits our city, or no tax and live with what we have. I am leaving that decision up to you. All I am saying is the ship sailed, and blaming one group of employees might make us feel better, the real question is "now what?"

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  • Will City Council ask?March 30, 2012 - 4:30 pm

    This is why I keep bringing up Mr. O'Rourke predicting all this in 2003..he nailed it dead on about the State taking away everything You mentioned and our City didn't take any of his recommedations..they just spend, spend, spend!.. Now no one has the extra money to give to our over-expanded City and their employees! As far as I'm concerned employees need to cut their wages more before trying to get the citizens to pony up.

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  • FF ResidentMarch 30, 2012 - 4:02 pm

    NO to a sales tax hike. The city needs to become more efficient. i.e., Get a job done right the FIRST time instead of having to return, remove, and re-do. There is no incentive for employees to do a job right. Being sloppy, however, means more pay. Any tax hike becomes permission for additional hikes as management focuses on generating more tax revenue instead of improving operations. NO TAX HIKE.

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  • know the factsMarch 30, 2012 - 4:08 pm

    No tax hike means a huge cut in services obviously. If you are good with that, then no problem. I am curious, what can they "do right the first time" to make things cheaper and more efficent? I am all for that, as I would most people are.

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  • Will City Council ask?March 30, 2012 - 10:16 pm

    I think the Council needs to ask why are we taking money for our street maintenance and bringing it to the General fund.....This gas tax money is suppose to go to our road repairs.

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  • know the factsMarch 30, 2012 - 10:30 pm

    Road repairs? The general fund is going broke, and many other things trump road repairs. This question needs to be asked to Sacramento since they took our gas tax money. Road repairs are funded thru the general fund; the 10 year plan calls for a budget of 6 million a year to maintain our roads. It was slashed to 1.5 million, which obviously isn't enough. Sounds kinda like the water increase and sewer increase huh? There won't be enough in those funds in a couple of years either, and the road repair fund is a perfect example. Yes, the Council needs to ask a lot of questions....and act accordingly.

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  • FredMarch 31, 2012 - 4:42 pm

    "Many other things trump road repairs" ktf? Like lighting in parks that either never had it or where it hasn't worked in decades?...

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  • The SugarJarApril 05, 2012 - 6:48 pm

    Squeaky wheel, maybe on the lighting?

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  • Here's what i want from the Fairfield council.!April 05, 2012 - 6:40 pm

    make it plain and simple for me concerning this tax...quit playing around ! Tell me EXACTLY what services I'm losing if this tax measure doesn't pass! I want this on a flier or posted somewhere were me and my neighbors have at least a month to discuss it!

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  • The SugarJarApril 05, 2012 - 6:52 pm

    Gosh dang it! I was replying to Fred's post and it disappeared. I suspect my shaky hands hit the abuse button instead of the reply. It would be lovely if when the report abusive comment button was hit it could ask are you sure send make you hit it again. Some days my shaky hands problem is worse than others--but I don't want to eliminate posts accidentally. :( sorry Fred.

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