Shortfall conflicts continue: Your reporting and comments on Monday’s Los Alamitos City Council Meeting

Were the able to make up the half million dollar deficit?

(Los Alamitos, 6/9/2014) 6/10/2014 update:  Thanks to our readers for an excellent description of the budget issues.  See comments at the end of this post, and add your perspective.  So far the only online reporting on this meeting available anywhere!

Despite all the excitement surrounding tonight’s Cypress City Council Meeting and Doug Bailey’s “You are an idiot!” e-mail to a constituent, Los Al’s City Council had some serious work to do tonight as well. Since it was  a Budget Meeting tonight’s Special Meeting should have been broadcast on LosAlTV3, so this post is for our readers to report on what they saw and thought.  One reader told me she planned to tape Los Al’s Meeting & watch Cypress live. Hopefully you can do your homework, because we’ve got family visiting from out of state for a couple weeks, & I’ve got 3 wonderful grandkids I don’t see that often to play with. . . plus the 4 precious “regulars” that live nearby.   Believe it or not  my lovely wife & I sat all 7 (ages 8 years to 6 months) overnight last night & even managed to get some sleep.   So please excuse me if I turn in early tonight. . . .

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7 Responses to Shortfall conflicts continue: Your reporting and comments on Monday’s Los Alamitos City Council Meeting

  1. The first hour: says:

    Meeting opened at 6 PM to oral communications.

    One person spoke about forgiving the fees to St. Isadore’s Committee for the off-site bingo that they want to incorporate over there.

    Then several people spoke on saving LA TV: Althea’s daughter spoke, also Lois Waddle, John Underwood, and two others. They were all in support.

    Total general fund reserves are $6,986,638. Of which $3,150,000 is PERS reserves.

    $1,100,000 for police capital expenditures fund facilities Street, Parks pool etc

    In order to close the budget gap they want to charge for parking on city property at Medical Center, diversify the city’s investment portfolio, partner with another entity for electronic billboard, annual cost for crossing guard with school District, pay off side fund liabilities for CalPERS, probably eliminate donated services and special events, and pass along credit card processing fees to consumers. Also make cuts in appropriations at proposed departments (see below), funding of 800 MHz Westcom expenditures. All of the above would save and/or raise $501,000.

    Department budget reductions are
    Community development 32,000.
    Police 16,523
    Recreation 7,500
    Admin services 15,986

    There is a lot of discussion all of it thoughtful and cooperative about trying to save some of the things like the crossing guards.

  2. JM Ivler says:

    There is a lot of discussion all of it thoughtful and cooperative about trying to save some of the things like the crossing guard.

    And this is why we changed the site name from letsfixlosal.com to losalnews.com – and it shows when people comment on how well our city council can work together in a transparent and open manner (not like the railroad in Cypress).

    We can “fix” Los Al when we respect one another and work together to find ways to make things work for the constituents. Heck, I’m even a little bit proud of them all. Now if we can get a bit more inventive on how to raise the capital we need to run the city effectively (and don’t get me started on salaries that top $125K/yr…) and reduce costs while not reducing levels of service.

  3. Not Impressed says:

    Some of the council’s budget action discussion did reflect that more thought was being devoted to the long term effects of their decisions. But it sure got bogged down when the talk turned to the, in general terms, downtown area. Although they played nice, the same scenario was taking shape that I have seen for years from the Los Alamitos City Council. There was unending talk from council members and (well paid) city staff about studies and money spend and projects that were stopped midstream or went nowhere over the last 20 years.

    And now they propose to use, $100,000 of the $200,000 reserves, to study and pay a vendor to design out-reach programs, to take the pulse of the residents. Enough already! Cities spend this kind of money on a number of square miles of development. The area along Katella is three or four blocks. Don’t make it more complicated or spend more of my tax dollars than absolutely needed.

    You have two options, or maybe a combination of the two:

    1)The city has spent over $300,000 over the last 4 years in vendors, outreach, meetings, and staff time to study and decide what the heck we want to be. Everything you want to study has already been studied. There is no logical need to duplicate work and expense.

    And/or

    2) Invite every citizen to our downtown on a Saturday afternoon. Have those that show up give their opinions. Write it down.

  4. The last 3 1/4 hours (of public session) says:

    CIP general fund Los Alamitos boulevard revitalization project 100,000 pool painting 40,000.
    City engineer spoke about where the street but revitalization left off 3-4 years ago.
    City already did public outreach.
    out of $90,000 slotted for that project 58,000 was spent at that time.

    CIP gas tax fund
    Arterial and residential street program 15,000
    Street striping 10,000
    Residential street improvements 50,000
    Replace median islands Katella And Los Alamitos 7,500 I think this means plant replacement and maintenance.
    Ally Drive approaches and cross cutters 10,000 Oak Street restriping $5000.
    Replacement of street signs 10,000
    Catalina truck crossing rehabilitation 15,000
    Old Dutch Haven rehabilitation 35,000
    Ball Road, portal Drive, and winners Circle, carryover 230,000
    Cerritos Avenue sidewalks carryover 20,000
    Los al Boulevard and Bradbury intersection pavement carry over 18,000
    School traffic study carryover 10,000

    C I P measure M fund
    Old Dutch Haven rehabilitation 227,200
    Citywide traffic count 5,000
    Ball Road, portal Drive, and winners Circle carryover 155,000

    CIP residential streets/Ally fund
    Additional speed bumps in the alley’s 20,000
    Alley improvements 14,000

    CIP building improvements fund community center rehabilitation 29,000
    City Hall complex facility repairs 7,000
    air-conditioner replacement 4 units 35,000
    Generator carryover 92,000
    Community pool 40,000
    During this discussion and Edgar is bringing up first why are we spending $40,000 on the pool if the users that help pay for the pool are going to be pulling out because their lease is up and they are looking elsewhere.
    It absolutely has to be painted because it’s becoming a safety hazard. City needs to be able to see a child on the bottom of the pool , it’s the law. Water polo may be pulling out. The pool is net zero in the operating budget for the pool. About 2000 people a year take swimming lessons.
    The pool is seven two years old.
    Edgar is personally struggling with this because the base has not given a permanent lease past 2016, Why poor money into it unless the base gets serious and gives a better lease.
    His type of pool needs to be painted every 2 to 3 years and has been painted every seven years.
    One of the buildings roof needs to be repaired because it’s leaking.
    They have lost the men’s water polo and there is a potential to lose the women’s water polo money.

    CIP park development fund
    Replace park fencing 16,000
    Community center internal renovations 250,000 (during the discussion of renovations for the community center they all talked about moving City Hall and the community center and why spend $250,000 on the community center if in 2 to 3 to 5 years the entire complex could move somewhere else)
    Little Cottonwood Park barbecue , Park fencing 4,000

    CIP traffic improvement fund.
    This is exactly the same thing as the CIP gas tax to fund above.

    CIP rivers and mountains Conservancy fund
    Coyote Creekpark carryover 400,000

    CIP garage fund
    purchase of vehicles
    110,000.
    Once again in an attempt to show a balanced budget by previous councils there’s no money in the garage fund.
    Let’s see what’s going to happen this time

    CIP 14 unfunded projects 427,500

    Proposed salary changes
    Increase the salary for the director of administrative services position by moving the position to the tear one salary range
    Reduce the salary for the executive assistant benefits coordinator
    Reclassify the planning aide position to a
    Assistant so requested by a physician associate position associate planner position.
    Hourly employees must be increased because July 1 the minimum wage is going up to 9 per hour.
    End of budget meeting
    Into close session approximately 10:15pm

  5. JM Ivler says:

    Not Impressed, as I tend to think of setting up a “downtown” with one anchor being a hospital and the other being a lumber and hardware supply store is downright foolish at it’s best, I tend to not be the person all these outreach and studies are being done for.

    The only people that get anything out of these studies (and I’m sure you will agree) are the consultants that get paid for doing them. And let’s be honest, the first people that they talk to are the decision makers who control the process to find out what they want to hear so that the consultant can figure out how to give them what they want to hear.

    We want a “downtown”, so in order to get people to come to a “downtown” we have to slow down traffic so they can see what this “downtown” has to offer them. Thus, the consultants will tell us that the best thing to do is take one of the two major streets in the city and turn it into a parking lot so that people will be enticed to stop and shop thereby creating a destination.

    While there are some fine little businesses along Los Al blvd and in that area, for the most part NONE other than the hardware store and the medical facility are “destinations” and without something to be a destination that is not a medical facility or a hardware store (which is where you drive up and get hardware and lumber, load it into a vehicle and then drive off) there is nothing that will create a “downtown” over there. All the little nice non-profits on “love street” are not “destinations”. The CIF is not a destination. The multiple medical offices are not a “destination” unless you have a need for that specific medical care.

    You can’t have a “downtown” without having a destination, a reason for people to come and congregate there. The piers at HB and SB, destinations. The multiple restaurants on 2nd street, a destination. The artist colonies in Laguna Beach, a destination. A four block area in Los Alamitos with a medical center on one side, a hardware store on another and a bunch of medical offices, housing, non-profits, offices (CIF) and three small strip malls over a six block area? Not much of a destination no mater what you do to it.

    But, hey give me a couple of hundred grand and I’ll be more than happy to tell you whatever you want to hear.

  6. Bottom line & analysis from one observer: says:

    They are kind of up in the air about the pool: They don’t really want to spend any more money on it unless they can get a long lease with the Base. My guess is they will suck it up, do the painting $40,000, unfunded) because of the safety issue. Have to be able to do lessons while they still have the remainder of the lease ….so you need to paint it. Dave E here: what about switching the lessons back to the High School Pool and just cancelling the lease? Or leaving it to the non-profit Pool Association that supposedly has the arrangements? Or is the City on the hook as a cosigner or something? Just asking. . . . sounds like we’re going to be spending money we don’t have for a money losing facility with one major user (USA Men’s Water Polo) already gone and the other (USA Women’s Water Polo) about to pull out. And questions about the lease being extended.

    I also think the outreach on the downtown will continue. They won’t know until the research is done exactly how much it’s going to cost and then it is going to have cost options and ways to fund it you won’t know if you want to do it. It’s like paying to have estimates to have work done, and then you decide if you can afford to have the work done or get grants. Dave E again: See the above comments for other perspectives on this study.

    We would definitely need grants because City can’t afford to maintain the infrastructure as it is right now. For a decade Councils have continued to kick the can down the road by borrowing from one fund to fund another fund or to make it look like we have a balanced budget.

    It actually probably goes back several decades.

    I completely remember CM Edgar not liking all these separate funds and wanting to put everything into the General Fund which I believe happened when he was in charge.

    He campaigned one year on a completely balanced budget and not only that but we had millions of dollars in reserves per him. Problem was that money wasn’t really in reserves it was all earmarked for different items.

    One thing is obvious to me from watching this budget meeting: The interim finance manager/director whatever he is…..knows what he’s doing.

    Edgar likes to work the system and he has fired or browbeat to the point of past finance people leaving.

    I hope Brett the CM,and his finance person can withstand the test of time as Edgar will be elected for four more years. My guess is he’s going to want to get rid of both of them especially the finance guy. Brett may crumble but this finance guy can only work a certain amount of hours a month because of his retirement. So he can just move on to another city that actually has been run financially correct.

    Murphy asked the city manager and finance director how long it would take after everything is running correctly to be where it really needs to be. They couldn’t answer that question without doing some kind of forecasting analysis.

    I really don’t understand why they would want to pursue the downtown area when the city is not really solvent. You don’t put a pool in your backyard if you need a new roof, stucco driveway, painting etc.

    Los Alamitos should really take care of its infrastructure, become solvent and then save the money to work on the downtown.

  7. Update on closed session says:

    Dave E here: This in this afternoon from our diligent City Clerk Windy Quintanar: No reportable actions taken during the closed session.

    From the outside, after so many meetings, it looks like the City and the two unions aren’t making progress with the City’s budget shortfall.

    One Council Member indicated to me that past contracts have contributed to the current budget mess, something we predicted years ago, citing a potential conflict of interest between the then Majority, which was elected with the support of the City Employees Union.

    By the way, if anyone finds any online reports on Monday’s meeting anywhere, pleaese post or e-mail me a link.

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