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City Council to Vote on Canceling All Community Events

The city's Cultural Festival, farmers' market and other events are on the line.

Hercules city staff will recommend postponing all community events—including the Cultural Festival and farmers' market—until the city’s general fund can support non-essential expenditures.

Staff will recommend the resolution to cancel events at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, which comes just days before dozens of employees are scheduled to receive notices due to a . Canceling the events would save the city’s general fund roughly $147,000 annually, city records show.

On March 8, the council considered a similar events cancellation resolution and voted to cut the Christmas tree lighting, Community Update (an informational event on city and other agency programs) and funding for the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration, while keeping the Cultural Festival, Fourth of July Celebration, Community Cleanup and lower-profile events. The council also voted to preserve the annual City of Hercules and Hercules Titans Boosters Golf Tournament and the seasonal farmers' market, which staff said brought $20,000 and $4,000, respectively, in net profit per year.

Since the March 8 vote, city staff has recalculated costs associated with the events and come up with higher numbers (earlier calculations did not include staff time). New numbers showed the farmers' market losing the city $16,255 per year. The golf tournament, while still netting between $5,400-$20,000, would likely receive less sponsorship because of recent changes in city officials and in companies that contract with the City of Hercules-contracted companies—some the top contributors to the event. If the city ends up cutting the farmers' market, an outside organization still has the option of picking up the event, said Interim Parks and Recreation Director Pedro Jimenez said at last week’s joint Financial Subcommittee-Citizens Finance Advisory Ad Hoc Committee.

In the March 8 meeting, council members said that if one community event can be saved, it should be the Cultural Festival, which is Hercules’ most popular—and expensive—event, costing the city $60,000 each year.

This year, roughly half of that cost has already been used towards planning for the summer event, Jimenez said.

Jimenez said his staff has considered a simplified version of the Cultural Festival, but it would still cost the city around $25,000. The Hercules Fourth of July Committee, which helps to plan the Independence Day parade and fireworks, has recommended canceling this year's event due to a dwindling city budget, Jimenez said.

Even if funds are approved for the festivities, pending layoffs will put pressure on an already stressed staff. “We’re going to have a very skeleton crew to do these events. It’s going to be tough,” said Jimenez.

COMMUNITY EVENTS FACING CANCELLATION 

Farmers' Market

Expenditures: $28,255.04. Income: $12,000. Net Profit: -$16,255.04

Cultural Festival

Expenditures: $60,255.04. Income: $12,000. Net Profit: -$48,255.04

4th of July Celebration

Expenditures: $44,607. Income: $15,00000 Net Profit: -$29,607

Golf Tournament

Expenditures: $30,000/$14,607. Income: $50,000 Net Profit: $20,000/$5,393

Community Cleanup

Expenditures: $10,969. Income: $0. Net Profit: -$10,969

Smaller Events

  • Citywide Garage Sales
  • E-waste
  • JAM in the Park
  • Mayors Conference
  • Sister City
  • Mayor's Breakfast
  • Crab Feed
  • Community Garden
  • Council Meeting (New Council)
  • Others: Office, Banners, etc.

Expenditures $24,255.42. Income: $0. Net Profit: -$24,255.42

CURRENTLY CANCELED EVENTS

Tree Lighting

Expenditures: $5,217.75. Income: $0.   Net Profit: -$5,217.75

Community Update

Expenditures: $7,217.75. Income: $0. Net Profit: -$7,217.75

Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration

Expenditures: $5,000. Income: $0. Net Profit: -$5,000

Phil Simmons April 11, 2011 at 03:47 PM
Looks like the golf tournament makes a profit. Where does that "profit" go? Maybe let those profits pay to support a couple of the other events that lose money.
Annie R. April 11, 2011 at 03:48 PM
Does the term "special interest groups" include those who support spending $500K on the Waterfront, the majority of which would be spent on HDR? Wasn't the prodigious use of consultants one of the reasons the City has been brought to it's knees?
Susan D.Keeffe April 11, 2011 at 04:38 PM
Annie, I think you have made your opposition to the Waterfront Initiative clear. I am looking forward to the next Task force meeting when we can question Mr Long and verify what Michelle Harrington and Jessie harder have said in that $28M in funding has already been secured for Phase 1, which is all beginning infrastructure work. The Task Force has already presented to the Council the commitment that nothing happen without adequate funding for each phase. Your comment demonstrates what I fear my happen at the meeting where concerned citizens are pitted against each other instead of finding ways to work together. I agree it is very hard to take a long range, more global view, when faced with our current urgent situation.
RJ April 11, 2011 at 04:50 PM
Why is Jessie Harder remaining as city staff/has he filed a 700/how much is he being paid by the city? The cuts to city events are necessary and I would ask the council to cut travel cost as well. The council spent $48,000 in travel in 2009-2010 and would hate to see that practice continue.
Phil Simmons April 11, 2011 at 04:54 PM
Annie, This $500k expense is a red herring concocted to bring bad light to the waterfront. It is not the issue. It has not been put in front of the city council by anyone working toward the succes of the waterfront. It appears to be a tool to disrupt any forward progress. The HDR ITC effort is not the issue and the $500K is being brought up without regard to the projects needs. It's is not the waterfront that broke the city. Far from it. Had the Waterfront Initiative been followed, had the city council not avoided it, had the city planning commission not allowed itself to be muzzled, had city staff spoken up about all of the other miss directions being done by city hall, and if we had the waterfront project moving forward, even now, the need for cut backs, the lose of jobs, and the problems the city now has would not have happened. You, other employees, the city's budget, would be in far better shape. There would be no Sycamore North problem, no Red Barn problem, no day care problem, no lack of police or firemen, or events problems. And the only sure way to bring the tax base back and correct the cut backs is to get the city thriving with a better tax base. The waterfront is a way to accomplish this. Or, do you prefer to doom the city to permanent blight, short tax revenues, a lack of services, and continual budget problems?
Phil Simmons April 11, 2011 at 05:03 PM
I agree, anything to do with the ITC can wait. That should not stop the forward progress of the waterfront private development entitlements.
Susan D.Keeffe April 11, 2011 at 05:16 PM
Ron, I agree re travel. If Council members and staff want to attend conferences it should be one their own dime. I understand some staff also have City credit cards! I'm delighted Dan Romero was successful in his plea to have checks posted on the website as other cities have been doing so we can see what is being spent and where. Staff salaries have also been made public.
Susan D.Keeffe April 11, 2011 at 05:41 PM
Phil, You said it all. That item appears to be a political ploy - a surprise to all those on the Task Force and to Mr long and Council members as well. You also mentioned Day Care which has been a hot topic but I'm not seeing those figures listed here, or the costs for the Recreation Department, parks and library.
Phil Simmons April 11, 2011 at 05:57 PM
Day Care and Parks and Recs are a different topic but a part of the same programs being looked at. This thread was specific to events. Stay tuned.
Susan D.Keeffe April 11, 2011 at 06:05 PM
I will!
Lisa April 11, 2011 at 06:11 PM
I am absolutely amazed that the city continued to run those community events at a loss - any "real" business would have either - marked up the costs to at the very least break even, or not have it at all. Typical - just like the feds who spend way more than we take in. It just doesn't work. They are nice events, but not at the expense of a loss to the taxpayers....
Annie R. April 11, 2011 at 07:17 PM
Phil and Susan, You may retract your claws now.
Phil Simmons April 11, 2011 at 07:19 PM
You first
Annie R. April 11, 2011 at 07:41 PM
I wasn't aware they'd been extended, Playing devil's advocate is a necessary evil, especially when so much is at stake. By the way, the well is dry.
Phil Simmons April 11, 2011 at 07:58 PM
I suppose the perception of claws being extended is in the eye of the beholder. In my view you have taken a position that defends jobs (without regard for the circumstances) but attacks the waterfront on whatever bases you can. For example you commented: "Does the term "special interest groups" include those who support spending $500K on the Waterfront, the majority of which would be spent on HDR?" Be aware those of us that are promoting the waterfront are just as opposed to HDR and the waste the city has issued with them. I started the effort to stop the city from their focus on the ITC last June. There was a series of meetings with a few citizens with Jesse Harder and Lisa Hammon. The effort was to try to get them to stop wasting time and money on the ITC and get to doing the work of supporting the whole project, most of which is private development. The city refused to do so. As I see it we need to forget about HDR and the train station for now and put all of our efforts and money into phase 1 of the waterfront, entitle the private sector projects, and move forward fast on building out the waterfront. Later the idea of a train station can be revisited when and if the money is there. It will take some money from the city to do phase one. Without it the city will lose $22million in grant money. The city will loss a chance to revitalize its tax base. Jobs will continue to be lost.
Annie R. April 11, 2011 at 09:38 PM
The train has left the station, along with the City's money.
tsong Ming April 11, 2011 at 09:54 PM
Will the city also cancel payment of Oliva's unearned severence, over $120,000 due to be paid to him in June? Ward and Kuehne, you still have the nerve to think you deserve to sit on the council, having voted Aye for stupid projects that wnet nowhere and wasted millions, and icing that cake with the re-hiring of Oliva? R-E-S-I-G-N.
Annie R. April 12, 2011 at 02:03 AM
Oliva's severance should have been the first item to be cut. And, to Ms. Ward and Mr. Kuehne, how does it feel to know you are responsible for the pink slips to be issued this week? The now-empty containers and Airstreams at Market Hall? And the white elephant looming over Sycamore Avenue?
tsong Ming April 12, 2011 at 02:48 AM
If they had an ounce of remorse Kuehne and Ward would resign. If the co--architects of this colossal failure, Balico, Batara, Oliva, Valstad, McDonald, etc, had an ounce of remorse between them, they would issue a public apology for the harm they have caused to this community. We have heard nothing from them but denials and fingerpointing. They should all be held to account, like the scoundrels in Bell, California. Kamala Harris, Mark Peterson, what are you waiting for? In the meantime, freeze any payments to any of them, especially Oliva.
Lisa April 12, 2011 at 06:05 AM
I so wish that Kuehne and Ward would resign as well, but lets face it crooks do not have remourse like we do. They will continue to think they did us a favor, and the city employees and others including the taxpayers will pay the price - and can I personally go to Mr Oliva's house and ask for repayment? I would LOVE to do that - anyone want to join? Maybe we can get some news crews to visit him as we do it like they did for the slide on Carson two weeks ago....Hey - all in fairness huh?
Giorgio C. April 12, 2011 at 12:54 PM
Where are the child care numbers? I cannot locate them in the budget documents on the City webpage. I only see how much the user is being charged, not how much the City is kicking in. Shouldn't this be listed somewhere? Do we even know for sure if the City is truly subsidizing any of the cost? If so, why? Did users demand it? Thank you for any clarification.
mommysquared April 12, 2011 at 01:12 PM
My husband and I are now 7 year residents of Hercules and although we moved here with the dream of a waterfront downtown we understand the dream is not yet dead and we have to tighten our belts as a community. Cutting events that have negative affect to a budget is a good thing at this point and the hope is down the road with better profits the community can again enjoy these! Our biggest concern are the cuts being discussed for police, child care, pool. As a bedroom community we cannot afford to have less police available to us. As a family with young children I am willing to pay more for the programs my children have and will participate in. Please don't dice and slice without care to what it will do for the families that live here! Where is the criminal investigation for those who brought us to this juncture???????
Chris Kelley April 12, 2011 at 01:36 PM
I agree with Phil Simmons about the Waterfront. Let's put the ITC portion on hold for now because the city does not have the money. Let's support the private development project. Building up our waterfront with walkable, combined residential & commercial development, and hopefully a park on the Point and Bay Trail extension, could bring in much needed tax revenue for the city.
Susan D.Keeffe April 12, 2011 at 01:50 PM
Chris, Exactly! Forget the ITC for now - it could end up a simple platform anyway. The private Waterfront development is much more critical at this point. Lisa, I also agree with you. Daycare is vital to young families but if the City is subsidizing it parents may have to pay a lot more. To give you an example, my daughter back east pays $2400 a month for two children regardless of how many days or hours she actually uses. As for swimming, I consider it a life skill but once again parents may have to pay more - maintaining a pool is very expensive. Perhaps there are grants available the City could seek for both areas? Just a thought.
mommysquared April 12, 2011 at 02:03 PM
Susan, Families are already talking about their willingness to pay additional fees for the childcare and preschool programs. I believe many will be at the City Council meeting tonight as I will too! I have started to research programs in neighboring cities and see there are some slight differences in fees and I also think there are grants to be found ... my first thought is First 5 of California for the preschool programs ... It would be devasting to the working families of this community to have to seek out new places off campus of the elementary schools for the children ... I think as a community we can rally around to save these programs ... Maybe start fundraisers too for these programs?? Also escript, Target and others have programs to help fund children's programs ...
Susan D.Keeffe April 12, 2011 at 02:09 PM
Lisa, All good ideas! This is an example of what I have been trying to say. Times are tough so now is the time for the community to come together. I don't know the details re the City DayCare situation or the Swim Center. Hopefully we will learn more about their deficits and what it would cost to make them break even as the City really can't afford anything right now.
Susan D.Keeffe April 12, 2011 at 02:14 PM
Lisa,Lucky's has a Shares Card system I support for my special needs son. Every time you shop money goes to the ARC which supports his adult workshop. Its seamless, I just give them my card before paying and then my purchases count. The card works at all Lucky's.
Lyn April 12, 2011 at 07:20 PM
Where can we see the list of staff salaries?
Sheila Smith April 13, 2011 at 04:06 AM
Lots and lots of ways here to continue to devalue homes in Hercules. What happens when property taxes generate even less revenue. Some cuts are needed, but let's not cut of our collective noses to spite our fcollective faces.
Giorgio C. April 13, 2011 at 05:58 AM
Good point. A hatchet job could send Hercules into a death spiral. This is a time for calm, discipline and reason.

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