This past Tuesday’s Eureka City Council meeting was an interesting spectacle. Since the inception of this blog we’ve been questioning the way the city has been spending its tax revenue particularly the extra money that was collected to enhance public safety (Measure O).
It looks like we’re right in sync with the voters.
The proposed budget included a 6% increase to $921,488 for the very pricey Zoo. Almost $571,500 is going to the Eureka Chamber of Commerce and the Humboldt County Convention and Visitor Bureau.
The budget also included increases to several city departments. The City Managers budget went up $389,000 (no one questioned this sharp increase?), the City Clerks budget increases by $106,000 (again no question?), and the very controversial City Attorney’s budget went up by $29,000 (we’ve called for her be replaced). However, the City proposed across the board cuts to the other departments. Police and Fire were facing a 10% cut.
Thank you to the Lost Coast Outpost for this link to the proposed budget:
The Public showed up in larger than usual numbers and spoke out against the proposed budget. We will have more posts regarding the outpouring of support for public safety in the future. However, one speaker really stood out to us; Leo Sears. Leo was the most visible and vocal supporter of Measure ‘O’, and has been campaigning for the extension of the tax in Measure ‘Q’.
Leo was not happy with the budget, and he spoke out against it. After hearing from the public, the council passed the budget with slight increases to public safety budgets coming from the general fund reserve. While that was a move in the right direction, it still means Public Safety isn’t being fully funded or that other less essential programs are taking cuts.
Here are Leo’s closing remarks after the council approved the budget:
Thank you for restoring the money you have and, uh, making the funds absolutely available to public safety rather than some nebulous thing that is ‘reserves’. Reserves are simply the general fund monies that have not allocated someplace. That’s all. They might go up, they might go down. So I’m very pleased with that. However, the whole concept of the approach that you’ve taken to this budgeting, I’m still, still, disappointed with. And to say, “Okay, well, the police budget has gone up.” Yes it has gone up because of increased cost for insurance and for PERS (retirement) and these things. It hasn’t gone up because you’re providing more public safety! That’s what we’re talking about; the amount of public safety and we can boil it down to dollars in public safety, but that’s a false argument. It annoys me to no end when that argument is used, “Well, the budget went up.” Yeah, because of cost, not because you’re allocating more public service to us. That’s what we deserve; public service. That’s what you heard from these people out here, and that still annoys me. Now, going into this, Frank told me to be nice. I have.
(Leo holds up an original campaign sign saying ‘O yes for public safety’). But….I can just see…instead of this we’re going to have a great big Q, with a slash across it that reads, “H-blank-L-L No” for those people that don’t think you’ve kept faith with this. And I’m not completely sure that you have! I still need some convincing. Thank you.