City anticipates deficits in coming years

first_imgHomeNewsCity CouncilCity anticipates deficits in coming years May. 19, 2017 at 7:15 amCity CouncilNewsCity anticipates deficits in coming yearsGuest Author4 years agobudgetcity councilcity manager rick coledaily pressdaily press city councilrick coleSanta Monicasanta monica budgetSanta Monica City Councilsanta monica daily press While the Santa Monica’s fiscal outlook looks strong for the next two years, a dramatic rise in pension costs threatens the City’s ongoing stability, according to a nearly 400 page budget released by the City Manager’s Office Wednesday.Even if national economic growth continues over the next two years, the City faces a $3.8 million General Fund deficit in 2019 that balloons to $19 million in 2021, according to current estimates. Pensions and workers’ compensation present the most significant pressures on the budget.“We can and will avoid those sobering threats,” City Manager Rick Cole said in the report. “But only with a rigorous focus on the efficiency and effectiveness of our programs and expenditures — and accepting the reality that we will need to be exceptionally disciplined in setting priorities.”Beginning next year, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) lowers its anticipated investment growth from 7.5 percent to 7 percent. That half percent decrease over three years means an additional $2 million will come out of Santa Monica’s General Fund in 2018, and then $13 million in 2021. At the same time, workers’ compensation costs will likely increase between 5 to 10 percent and healthcare costs may increase by as much as 8 percent annually.The overall proposed budget for the City is $773.7 million in 2017/18 and $802.1 million in 2018/19. Total compensation, which includes employee salaries, pension contributions, health care and workers’ compensation costs, makes up 64 percent of the City’s overall operating budget.“To make the most of our resources, and to ensure that we continue to have resources in harder times, we must be purposeful, watchful, and strategic about how we spend,” Cole said.The City currently has 2,325 employees (both permanent and temporary) and will add net 5 positions over the next year, but plans to cut six positions soon after to end up with 2,324 by the end of the fiscal year in 2019. The City Manager’s office alone will cut a total of 16 positions from a high of 76 full time employees in 2015 to 60 in 2019.The City has faced a backlash from some neighborhood groups and fiscal conservatives over the last year in response to the size of city staff, their salaries and growing pension liability. The City’s various pension plans have a combined unfunded long-term liability of $387 million (the other 75 percent of its $1.5 billion liability is funded, according to the City’s Director of Finance Gigi Decavalles-Hughes). Complaints lead to the launch of an audit subcommittee to look at the City’s fiscal health.Critics often compare Santa Monica’s staff size to nearby Newport Beach which has a similar population but 1,700 fewer employees, according to the conservative watchdog Transparent California. However, the tax base for the two cities is starkly different. For example, in 2015 Santa Monica brought in twice as much Transit Occupancy Tax ($46.6 million compared to $25 million) while visitors spent $840 million more in Santa Monica than in Newport, according to data from the City of Santa Monica and Newport Beach & Co., the company that handles marketing for that city.However, despite Santa Monica’s diverse tax base, all major sources of revenue are projected to grow more slowly or decline over the coming years, according to the report. Charges for services make up 24 percent of the City’s revenue, sales tax accounts for 19 percent and hotel taxes and property taxes each make up 9 percent. Most of the City’s tax revenue depends on the health of the overall economy, International tourism, and the real-estate market, which could all be significantly impacted by economic an slow-down or down turn in the coming years. If the economy continues to grow, it would be the longest period of economic expansion in the last [email protected] :budgetcity councilcity manager rick coledaily pressdaily press city councilrick coleSanta Monicasanta monica budgetSanta Monica City Councilsanta monica daily pressshare on Facebookshare on Twitteradd a commentMarina Del Rey preparing for summer funPolice arrest convicted felon in shooting of young Samohi graduateYou Might Also LikeFeaturedNewsBobadilla rejects Santa Monica City Manager positionMatthew Hall11 hours agoNewsCouncil picks new City ManagerBrennon Dixson22 hours agoFeaturedNewsProtesting parents and Snapchat remain in disagreement over child protection policiesClara Harter22 hours agoFeaturedNewsDowntown grocery to become mixed use developmenteditor22 hours agoNewsBruised but unbowed, meme stock investors are back for moreAssociated Press22 hours agoNewsWedding boom is on in the US as vendors scramble to keep upAssociated Press22 hours agolast_img read more

A City Divided By Income

first_img ‘It’s Fractured’: Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan On Healing Republican Party We went to three different neighborhoods in Atlanta to break the bubble we were living in.Christian explains…We decided to do this project because we wanted to show people that poverty is not an issue that is far away from them; it is in their backyard. All of these neighborhoods were within 30 minutes of each other, but they were drastically different. We want to break the bubble that many wealthy people live in and show them that poverty is an issue that needs to be addressed. Middle-Class Atlanta Isaac reflects … In Atlantic Station, Christian and I were mostly ignored. That doesn’t mean people were being rude; they just treated us with courteous detachment, passed off as another shopper, or someone’s kid and their friend who just got a camera. First we walked around in a parking garage, taking pictures of the cars. This was the first time I saw the wealth in Atlantic Station, as the cars behind the residents’ chain-link fence were almost all sports cars. BMWs marked the corners and Mustangs were hiding with them. Not to mention, we saw a Corvette pulling into park next to a bright yellow Porsche. One of the ways I identify middle class is by spending, and the fact that people living in the building had these as their cars was not too surprising seeing as the apartments went for $300,000-$1,000,000, according to the sign outside the building. The houses across the street were much more mellow. Although there was no neighborly talking going on outside, there was still a sense of trust, evidenced by how the homeowners left shoes and other things on their front porches. Also, every single house had security and showed it off with stickers, signs and security cameras. One of the more modern things we saw was a solar panel in the street, showing off how modern and cool Atlantic Station is.Lower-Income AtlantaWe decided to visit a neighborhood in the 30314 zip code because we looked on a website showing neighborhood and consumer data (Claritas) and saw it was a low-income area, where just under 50 percent of households had income of less than $25,000 per year and that hardly any households had high incomes. Anna Claire reflects… When we went to 30314, I wasn’t expecting to be as impacted as I was. Seeing how other people lived and how much less they had than I do, made me really think about what I have. Seeing how many houses were boarded up and the piles of trash outside in the yards opened my eyes, and I saw how fortunate I am. Everyone we ran into seemed very nice and said hi and asked us how we were doing, which was very unlike Buckhead or Atlantic Station. There was one grocery store in the neighborhood we visited, and we didn’t see any big stores or clothing stores or anything of the sort. The neighborhood was only 12 minutes, by car, from Old Fourth Ward and Ponce City Market, but the people living in this impoverished area probably would have to go farther to find products they can afford. I was surprised by the elementary school here, because it seemed recently redone and nicer than Morris Brandon Elementary, an elementary school in Buckhead. Isaac reflects…Although it had rained before we arrived and was still misting at the time, our visit to 30314 was great. It had a friendly environment, the people seemed genuinely interested in what we were doing by talking to us, and I learned so much from just walking around. As a wealthier person, I, too, thought of poverty as “over there” in a different state, or the other side of Atlanta, and in my earlier years on the other side of the world — certainly not 10 minutes away from my house and private school. While teachers were telling me this, I never really took it in and thought about it. Walking around was a slap in the face, seeing the pawn shops, the sign on the only store that said they took food stamps, the brown and yellow mattresses in people’s yards, the broken glass everywhere, and crushed beer cans. It seemed like a movie set. In a way it was shocking, but I didn’t feel sorry and pity the people living there. Everyone at school told us to be very respectful and careful of how we presented ourselves while visiting a low-income neighborhood, but at no point did I feel threatened or did I feel anyone was resentful of us because of our privilege. Upper-Class AtlantaAnna Claire reflects…In Buckhead, the environment was very different, and it felt more cold and unwelcoming. Seeing the castles hidden behind half a mile of driveway and a gate just gave Buckhead an unwelcoming vibe. While we were taking pictures, we were shown dirty looks and were even asked what we were doing in a condescending manner. The whole time we were there, Layney and I felt like we were trespassing and that we didn’t belong. Atlanta’s Housing Facts When we were researching for this project, what we found surprised us as a group. We researched facts about income in Atlanta from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Forbes, Politifact Georgia, and real estate resources like Investopedia and Point2Homes, and we learned that 24.6 percent of people in Atlanta are living in poverty. So right now that would be around 114,114 people are impoverished in Atlanta. We are all privileged kids, so seeing that the average house price was about $184,900 was a little shocking. We are used to growing up in and around Buckhead-sized houses and were surprised to see that the average was so much lower than what we were expecting. Seeing as the average median income for metro Atlanta is $55,733, this shouldn’t have surprised us as much as it did. But we didn’t know what the average income was until we started this unit of study at school. When we would discuss median income, we would say $55,000 as if it weren’t a lot of money, even though it’s $10,000 more than the lowest end of Atlanta’s definition of middle class, which is $40,000 to $140,000. We found ourselves thrust out of our bubble, which was really important and something that we wanted to do when we started this project.Truth Hidden Behind StereotypesLayney reflects…A common misconception I have heard a lot is the richer a neighborhood, the more welcoming it is. When we went to three different places with three drastically different classes, we found the opposite. When we went to 30314, the people living there were very friendly. The first encounter we had with someone was a man in his car. He asked us how we were, what we were doing, and where we went to school all the while he had a giant, friendly smile on his face. People stopped for us when we crossed the street and waved goodbye. While walking, people would give us a polite nod and a grin. I felt like they welcomed me like their neighbor, and I left in a better mood than I came in with. In 30327, people gave us weird glances wherever we went. They treated us like we didn’t fit in when they stared at our clothes and car. People stopped us and aggressively asked us what we were doing. The gates were closed with heavy-duty locks, giving us the impression we weren’t invited in.By doing this project, I saw just how prominent the wage gap in Atlanta is. People in Buckhead were merely 30 minutes away from the lower-class neighborhood, yet their houses would tower over the ones in 30314. It opened my eyes to see how much it benefited to be rich. As a society, we need to be more aware of how income and class has an impact on our surroundings and how we treat other people. Layney, Anna Claire, Christian and Isaac are eighth graders at The Paideia School, which has a curriculum focused on race, class and gender.  This story was published at VOXAtl.com, Atlanta’s home for uncensored teen publishing and self-expression. For more about the nonprofit VOX, visit www.voxatl.org. Add to My List In My List Legal Advocate Discusses Medical Abuse At Shut Down Georgia ICE Facility For Whom The Bell Rings Related Stories Sharelast_img read more