Thursday, August 21, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

California cities pay price for overspending

By
June 1, 2011 |

The B-word — bankruptcy — is being bandied about in Stockton these days as the California city faces a $37 million budget deficit with no light at the end of the fiscal tunnel.

Mayor Ann Johnston uttered it this month, telling local civic leaders, “We will do everything, absolutely everything, in our power to avoid bankruptcy.”

Vallejo filed for bankruptcy a few years ago under circumstances that are remarkably similar to those now facing Stockton. Both cities experienced rapid population growth as developers threw up subdivisions during the late and unlamented easy mortgage money bubble and house-hungry Bay Area commuters staged a feeding frenzy.

Both cities had seen their industrial employment bases erode and seized on the housing boom as an economic renaissance. Development fees, property taxes and sales taxes from new shopping centers poured into city treasuries. Officials responded with lavish contracts for city employees, especially police and firefighters, when unions applied pressure.

Stockton also sensed an opportunity to resuscitate its somewhat dilapidated downtown and borrowed to build a new baseball park, a new sports arena and a new marina, none of which came close to breaking even.

The marina cost $22.4 million to build, or more than $300,000 per berth, which is far, far more than any reasonable cost-benefit analysis would have supported. After it’s opening, the city revealed the marina would cost the city treasury about $700,000 a year in operating subsidies.

The marina, the ballpark and the arena drain some $3 million a year from city taxpayers — money that’s not available for legitimate civic purposes.

Stockton has laid off police officers and made other cuts to close its looming budget gap, and the city’s relationship with its police union is so contentious union leaders bought a home next to the one occupied by the city manager in an ill-disguised effort at intimidation.

Vallejo and Stockton are not alone in feeling fiscal distress. Throughout the state, local governments — especially those that bought into the housing bubble — are struggling with their budgets.

They are, ironically enough, following a pattern set in Sacramento, where governors and legislators also overspent windfall revenues and then dealt with the resulting deficits with gimmicks and borrowing, rather than face the music.

When former Gov. Gray Davis and legislators approved a massive expansion of state employee pensions, for instance, most local governments quickly followed suit. They now face stiff increases in their bills from the California Public Employees’ Retirement System that contribute to their budget shortfalls.

There’s a lesson in the past decade of profligacy. One only hopes that those we elect to office learn it well.

Email Dan Walters at dwalters@sacbee.com.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

First day back to school brings laughter, jitters

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Potrero Hills Landfill legal appeals exhausted

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1

Railroad crossing stalemate continues

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1

 
Breakfast after the Bell wins support

By Mayrene Bates | From Page: A2

Fairfield candidates hear about lean, nimble city staff

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
 
Suisun city employees get pay raise

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3

Girls on the Run seeks volunteer life coaches

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A4

 
College finalizes police department takeover, OKs bond plan

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

 
Free e-waste collection to benefit Scarlet Brigade

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Fairfield mayor to appear at GOP dinner

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Fairfield police log: Aug. 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

Suisun City police log: Aug. 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

 
Weather for Aug. 21, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B10

.

US / World

Governor criticizes new-hire pension enhancements

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
US mission to rescue hostages in Syria failed

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

US official: More airstrikes in Iraq

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Beheading spurs new attacks on Islamic militants

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Militants use British killer as propaganda

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
School sorry for making special ed kids sort trash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Police seek mystery pair in selfies after burglary

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Teens deny threatening boy in school shooting plot

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Panel OKs state librarian despite initial concerns

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Navy kicks out 34 for nuke cheating

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

CHP says officer may face serious beating charges

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
8 homes destroyed, 1,500 threatened by wildfire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Drought has state debating its unregulated pumping

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Holder says he understands mistrust of police

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Liberian slums barricaded as Ebola sets new record

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
North Korea insults John Kerry over his looks

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Ukrainian govt troops take over much of Luhansk

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Picture emerges of officer in Ferguson shooting

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

.

Opinion

 
Tell the story, don’t be it

By Ruben Navarrette | From Page: A7

Everyone can benefit from ‘the talk’

By Kelvin Wade | From Page: A7

 
We’re spending way too much on raising our kids

By Megan Mcardle | From Page: A7

Editorial Cartoons: Aug. 21, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
California needs pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A7

.

Living

Today in History: Aug. 21, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Aug. 21, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Aug. 21, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

 
Why do parents drink alcohol after their children’s games?

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A5

 
And the Emmy winners are…? We’re happy to guess!

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Aniston, Hamm, Hudson set to Stand Up to Cancer

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Emmys: Billy Crystal to pay tribute to Williams

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6 | Gallery

.

Sports

Peavy pitches Giants to 8-3 win over Cubs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
WR Stevie Johnson adds depth to 49ers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Fairfield boxer Avila set to put perfect 15-0 record on the line

By Brian Arnold | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Giants win protest, rain-shortened game to resume Thursday

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

A’s stumble and must regroup with Angels coming

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Raiders FB Reece’s injury not as bad as feared

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Las Vegas spoils Mo’ne’s night, beats Philly 8-1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Sharks F Torres undergoes surgery on right knee

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

US routs Dominicans in exhibition as Rose rests

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Schilling blames chewing tobacco for mouth cancer

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Reality check for Phelps at Pan Pacific Champs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Kent State starting center dies at 21

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Serena Williams seeded No. 1 at US Open; Halep 2nd

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Tony Stewart skipping 3rd straight race after Ward’s death

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

This date in sports history for Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Sports on TV for Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B4

.

Business

Brine firm sues over biblical fracking billboard

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Apple’s stock bounces back to hit a new high

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

BofA reaches $17B settlement with US

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
.

Obituaries

George ‘Wayne’ Hause

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Sharon Ilene Boyd

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

David G. Gibson

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Charles (Chuck) H. Doty

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9