Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

The Cuts the Finance Committee Refused to Recommend for Political Reasons

By Emerson Drake

On Wednesday August 15,2013 the Modesto Finance Committee met to discuss the budget reductions recommended by

English: Author: Carl Skaggs This image was ta...

the City Manager Greg Nyhoff in the event the one percent sales tax doesn’t pass. The committee which consists of Chair-Stephanie Burnside. Vice-Chair David Cogdill, and Joe Muratore (absent with Dave Geer standing in) had made prior arrangements with Nyhoff and Mayor Marsh to withhold discussion because of Councilwoman Burnside’s unwillingness to voice her opinions due to  her up-coming re-election bid.  Of just as much concern was Nyhoff having not placed his recommendations on-line (they still are NOT on the city website.

All of the Department heads were there to discuss and or answer questions regarding the potential cuts but because of the previous behind the scenes agreement to help Burnside, no give and take took place.  As a matter of fact Nyhoff told the Dept. heads they could leave.  This article isn’t meant to be a discussion of the right or wrong of the sales tax or of the cuts, we’ll do that in another article.  It’s about disdain and the lack of  transparency by Modesto City officials towards the public. The room was full with Chamber of Commerce members,  a couple of members of the public and one candidate, Bill Zoslocki. Of potential interest were the only three people in attendance with color printouts in white folders, Brent Sinclair, lobbyist Cecil Russell, and candidate/developer Bill Zoslocki. Everyone else had the black and white copies from the table at the door.

Then there was the single page Nyhoff handed out during the meeting containing the cuts.  It was noted the potential deficit this year was $11.8 Million and much is expected to be the same next year.  If they don’t fill positions again this year in the Public Safety and Non-Safety Departments the deficit will be only about $8 Million.  Yet the goal for the day’s exercise was $6 Million.

Here is the list of recommended reductions.

The City Manager’s Dept.  ……………………………………………………….$141,000                                                                                                                    Eliminating lobbyists contracts, eliminating dues, memberships, supporting Alliance, CA League of Cities, Conference of Mayors, eliminate CM and DCM conference attendance.

Human Resources Dept.  …………………………………………………………$209,000                                                                                                                  Position reductions (slow recruitment and hiring, reduced HR assistance to departments regarding personnel matters, delayed response to labor group inquiries.

Finance Dept. ………………………………………………………………………..$450,000                                                                                                                  Downsize budget division (annual budget process, cannot expand to 2 year budget, minimal forecasting and pro forma updates, slower responses to operating dept inquiries) downsize purchasing division (formal RFP’s will go from 120 days to 240. master contracts will expire and require delay in renewals), downsize grant section (grant compliance will shift to operating depts. causing a greater potential for errors in regulatory grant reporting, internal controls weakened significantly)

Parks Recreation & Neighborhood Services ……………………………….$1,000,000                                                                                                              Close Centre Plaza, Closure of Dryden Golf Course, eliminate GF subsidy for John Thurman Field (impact to Modesto Nuts). eliminate support for parades, recreation  programs and Leisure Bucks Programs, eliminate graffiti abatement.

Community and Economic Development ……………………………………$400,000                                                                                                               50% reduction in code enforcement services and complaint inspection, elimination of planning activities of 50% reduction in service (eliminate support for CIP Task Force, 50% reduction in response to customers, developers, City Manager, City Council, inquiries), eliminate participation in Regional Rail. regional transportation and sustainable communities, Eliminate long-range planning (General Plan, ag preservation, housing element, Urban Growth Review), eliminate Downtown Hospitality Program, (parking study, policing and security, entertainment and nightlife)

Total non-public safety …………………………………….approximately $2,200,000

Public Safety Departments–Police and Fire

Modesto Regional Fire Authority (MRFA)…………………………………..$1,400,000                                                                                                      Brown out one fire engine / station

Police …………………………………………………………………………………$2,500,000                                                                                                      Reduction in patrol, reduction in Animal Control Services, elimination in STAN CATT participation, withdraw from Auto Theft Task Force, reduce office hours in customer service, eliminate participation in Federal Gang Task Force

Total Public Safety–Police and Fire …………………………………………$3,900,000

TOTAL PUBLIC SAFETY AND NON-PUBLIC SAFETY ……………………..$6,100,000

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