FULLERTON BUDGET VOTE
Or why can’t we get a majority of our council to be concerned with our budget deficits? by Barry Levinson
On Tuesday, the 9th of June, the city council split their votes 2 for and 2 against the 2015-2016 and the 2016-2017 budgets that had projected million dollar plus deficits for at least the next two years. Fitzgerald and Flory voted for the budget and Whitaker and Sebourn voted against approving the budget as presented by the city. Council member Chaffee was absent, which created an even number of council members to be present and thus resulted in the budget vote going down to defeat. It will be revisited in the upcoming council meeting on Tuesday June 16th.
In voting for it Council member Fitzgerald said that the projected deficits did not consider all the additional revenues that new projects will bring to the city going forward. I am assuming she was referring to the Downtown Core and Corridor Special Project and the College Town Project among others.
That comment was very enlightening because it seems to indicate that not only is Ms. Fitzgerald in favor of these additional large-scale projects but that she expects them to be passed by the council. (She is therefore counting the revenues before the council has taken any action. Does she know something that the public does not know? Has she discussed this with at least 2 other council members, which is a clear violation of the Brown Act?) She said this despite the fact that many citizens spoke out during the previous two council meetings for a moratorium on any major new building as long as the drought restrictions are still in place. I know for sure that these new massive projects will not be “Water Use Neutral”.
It is very curious that Ms. Fitzgerald expects to add major new developments with major new water usage at the very same time the citizens of Fullerton are asked to sacrifice to meet a state mandated 28% water usage reduction.
The above may make perfect sense if the council’s highest priority is ensuring that the city has the necessary money to continue to pay for employee salaries and benefits.
I then remembered that it was Ms. Fitzgerald’s good fortune that shortly after being elected to the Fullerton City Council she also got a new day job as well as Vice President of Curt Pringle and Associates (Consulting and PR Firm). We all know how PR and Consultant firms love major new projects where they can represent various developer interests and make a lot of money in the process.
Let me try to summarize what the city is planning to spring on the public.
First they will pass the budget deficit budgets thereby protecting the jobs and benefits of all their employees.
Second they will approve the College Town and the Downtown Core and Corridor Special Projects to ensure the revenue streams continue to be sufficient to support them in the fashion they have become accustomed to. If Ms. Fitzgerald was not sure these would be approved why did she state at the council budget meeting that those yet to be voted for revenues would in fact reduce the projected budget deficits?
Third, they have already put in place very strict water usage restrictions for Fullerton homeowners, which the Fullerton Water Systems Manager stated must include a 50% cut in homeowners outside water usage in order to meet the state’s mandatory 28% water reduction for Fullerton. They have also identified what they call “passive” city parks that will have its water usage cut by a whopping 85%. Remember we just learned that all city of Fullerton water usage is a pass through cost to the public via higher water rates. A responsible city would accumulate and pay directly for their water usage separately and show it as a legitimate cost of running the city government. What does Fullerton do in contrast? They pass all their water usage directly to the ratepayers in the form of higher water rates.
I hope most of you are realizing that all the above moves and lack thereof (i.e. placing a moratorium on new major development), favors one small group over a much larger group. The small group being the city employees and their representatives and the larger group being the citizens of the city of Fullerton.
If that does not describe a corrupt city, there is no such thing.
I report, you decide.