The current fiscal condition of Pinole city government lately has become a lightning rod for public opinion. In public meetings, in casual talk on the street and in the Pinole Patch comment stream, points of view alternatively collide, comingle or congeal into debating points.
As a point of illustration, this recent remark appeared in our comment stream from reader Chris Wimmer:
"Where are the salary cuts for the city manager and asst city manager? Cut their salaries in half. Save two WORKERS who we as taxpayers SEE everyday. Fire and police. Sorry folks. You can't hide no more. Give it up. Have you no shame. Let workers go and continue to collect big salaries?"
A seemingly perfect storm is forming, with the pending expiration of the utility users tax, stalled negotiations with public safety unions and the looming November city council election for two of the five seats.
We'd like to move this conversation forward. First, we'd like to add some context:
- In May 2011, the city manager, assistant city manager and city clerk cut in compensation.
- Last July, city and firefighter negotiations failed, leading to the council's on firefighters.
- Last July the council for police seargants, officers and dispatchers after negotiations stalled.
- In March 2011, student and Economic Development and Housing Advisory Committee member that city council members should take pay cuts or surrender city-paid health benefits as a gesture of self sacrifice.
- At Tuesday's city council budget workshop Councilman Phil Green raised the idea of reducing the number of council members from five to three as a cost-cutting measure.
- Also at Tuesday's meeting Councilwoman Debbie Long suggested possibly shifting some city department heads to 36-hour work weeks.
This is not the entire representation of the ideas floating around, but they are among the primary ones that seem to be on the minds of elected officials and the public at large.
Some people say that the only plausible way out of the situation is to make deep cuts, all around, to employee salaries and pensions, including police and fire personnel. We've also heard that employees should be fired, then re-hired at lower compensation levels so that Pinole can remain an independent, "full-service" city. Still others say that city hall already has cut not only to the bone, but to the marrow.
What do you think? Post your comments below.