As EPOA attempts a “forensic audit” of Eureka’s books; now the City demands substantial cuts in Police Dept???

2 + 2Well we warned you, but we’re not happy to be right. In the case of Eureka’s squandering of the City budget and Measure O/Q funds, we took a lot of grief for our predictions. Measure Q won by a large margin, but now as reported on John Chiv’s blog, the City of Eureka is looking to make major cuts at the Eureka Police Department.

WTF? Are you doing a double take about now? You should be. Measure Q “For Public Safety” was supposed to ensure a fully staffed and budgeted police department, but it looks like that promise was barley good for 5 months. After the dialogue about the cuts was opened, we reached out to some of our sources at City Hall. We were given an email that was sent department wide at EPD by Chief Mills.

Below is a portion of the email (original errors left intact):

“As you may have heard I have been asked to substantially reduce our budget. I have some thinks to fight about (computations on vehicles and computers for example) and examine before I make any decisions. Last year we were creative and figured it out and did so with minimal problems. It will be tougher this year, but I am committed to working hard and fighting for each employee.

I have to be frank. I did not see this coming and its worse than I thought. I asked you to get out and push for measure Z and many of you did so. I also spoke publically more than 20 times to community groups. It helped significantly, but the costs of health care, PERS and workman’s comp continue to rise markedly and now with the reduction in revenue for water ($1.2 m) we need to cut budgets citywide. We are all in this together.”

Now, this seems pretty straightforward. The city’s revenue is down, so cuts have to be made. Why the City Manager would choose to cut public safety is beyond imagining, but it seems to be what he is proposing.

But….and this is a big but….the City also happens to be in contract negotiations with the Police Department. EPD voluntarily put off pay increases for several years during the worst budget times. The last contract was only for two years, included no pay increases, and caused police officers and dispatchers to pay more for health insurance. That’s what we would call a pay cut by any standard.  EPD took pay cuts 2 years ago, bottom line.

Now, in part because of all the questions raised on this blog and from others the police union (EPOA) made a choice in this round of labor negotiations. The EPOA voted to spend tens of thousands of dollars to have a “forensic audit” of the cities books to see where the money is being spent.

Did that scare some folks at City Hall? Abso-freakin-lutely. An independent forensic audit is what we have been calling for and just what the city needs, but it’s also exactly what the entrenched powers in Eureka don’t want to happen. It was a strong play by the EPOA, but it looks like the City is swinging a pretty big stick to stamp out the effort.

So is Eureka, even after an overwhelming vote to extend the sales tax increase for public safety, really going to cut the Police budget? Or, is this a ploy to try and get the EPOA to back off of an independent audit of the city? Only time will tell.

However, if the EPOA is able to get a forensic audit of the city, we would encourage that information to be passed out to the public. The EPOA can send the information to us or any local media source. Our belief is that a REAL audit will dig up some of the ugly skeletons from the budget, and we hope that the wool isn’t left over the eyes of the taxpaying citizens of Eureka and Humboldt County.

Advertisements

21 thoughts on “As EPOA attempts a “forensic audit” of Eureka’s books; now the City demands substantial cuts in Police Dept???

  1. Well now, why should they be worried if they don’t have anything to hide?

    Like

  2. I hate to state the obvious here, but didn’t we just elect Natalie Arroyo and Kim Bergel for a progressive majority on the Eureka City Council?

    Let’s put the blame where it should be – the leaders we elected.

    Like

    • I wish I could disagree with you, but I can’t. Both of them have been very disappointing so far. I was hoping it was just the newness to the job, but it seems that they have had enough time now to start moving things forward.

      Discouraging…to say the least.

      Like

    • But they both have such pretty smiles!

      Like

    • So, this type of shady dealings have been going on for quite some time, or, as long as David Tyson had his hands on the purse strings. Now, after just a few months in office, you seriously think it’s reasonable to lay blame at the feet of the two newest members of the City Council? Seriously?!

      That sounds like deflection and letting the real culprits off of the hook. It sounds like something a paid shill would say! If things like this have been going on for over a decade and you expect a quick fix, then I’d say your expectations are way too high.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Lay blame…no. Dissatisfied that so far nothing has been openly discussed or criticized by either of them…yes. While Arroyo and Bergel stood side by side with Ciarabelini at the eagle exhibit this weekend (at the city funded zoo), the cities problems continued on seemingly unabated.

        I voted for both, btw. And I would again if given the same options. Doesn’t mean I’m going to be excited about a lack of any forward progress in regards to the cities budget.

        Like

    • Is the current city council responsible for the current city budget?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. looks like we need to put it on the ballot,someone can gather enough signature and we can vote to have an audit every year. there has to be a way to do so.There spending tax money in the shadows and we have no way of knowing where. so Please someone with knowledge of getting things on a ballot start a drive for signature to have it a requirement to have audit yearly and all reps pay frozen until audit is complete. crazy how they just raised there pay but now cutting police

    Like

  4. Ok the reason why the police budget is being targeted is that it is the largest component of the budget. You can’t reduce a budget unless you attack the meat of it. Case in point those republicans who believe that by cutting foreign aid, NPR and NEA you can balance the federal budget without attacking social security, Medicare and defense. You can’t. Having said that an audit of the city is absolutely needed and I applaud the EPOA in taking this step. This is standard procedure by law firms who negotiate on behalf of police unions. I believe that EPOA is represented by Rains, Lucia and Stern who are quite good at these negotiations. Here is hoping that audit is released. The pension costs are out the window, and need to be addressed. Larger contribution share by the employees is the only solution.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very true. The police budget is the largest. But there are other non-essential areas that can be tapped as well. For instance, why doesn’t the City take a hard line and force the county to pony up funds for the zoo? Pretty simple math in that area. City of Eureka visitors make up 28% of visitors. County of Humboldt visitors make up 30%. So, instead of Eureka paying $600,000, maybe the city and county could split the difference and each pay $300K. At this point, Eureka is subsidizing an entertainment attraction for residents who don’t live in the city.

      That’s just one small portion of a large budget, but when times are tough everything should be looked at and prioritized.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Just curious…..how exactly does the city “force” the county to split funding of the zoo?

        Like

  5. The City’s books ARE audited every year. If the EPOA wants to pony up the hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for a forensic audit, they will find that most general fund money has been spent on public safety.

    EVERY department in the City has been asked to trim money from their budgets, just like last year; unlike last year, there is no way that the proposed cuts to the Police and Fire departments can be added back to the budgets without landing in a deficit position. As JP says, the police budget is the largest and as such it would be impossible to balance the budget without making some cuts to them.

    Like JP, I am also in favor at taking a very hard look at the Zoo, but I would also suggest eliminating the payments to the Chamber of Commerce, the Clarke Museum, the Film Commission and the VIsitors/Convention bureau – between those orgs, there is probably about 800k that could be eliminated, perhaps saving some essential fire and police services.

    Like

    • “The City’s books ARE audited every year.”
      This is true but it’s done by the same firm every year and it’s vetted with the manager before it goes to the Council or the public. Then heavily spun to look good

      Like

    • I concur. I used the zoo as an example, but all of the others need to be looked at as well. If we can save 2 officer positions by cutting funding to the Chamber, I say that’s a better proposition. In fact, maybe the city should charge the Chamber rent for the property the owns which they inhabit. The list goes on….Eureka Mainstreet….and so on and so on.

      Like

  6. Are you telling us that our new “progressive” city council has not eliminated the $100,000 annual Chamber of Commerce subsidy? Isn’t their free land enough of a public entitlement?

    No wonder so few people still vote.

    If EPOA suddenly backs-off demands for an audit, don’t be surprised if they signed a confidentiality agreement with Eureka to keep the police budget intact.

    Like

  7. The driver behind this is unfunded pension liabilities. I listened to KINS News this morning and heard both Greg Sparks and Ken Woods talk about 12% to 15% cuts are necessary. This isn’t about a misuse of funds this is about pensions, health care and CalPers and the blame rests with the likes of Dave Tyson and previous city councils and the deals negotiated with police and fire. The idea that the current council has had time to have any effect on decisions made five, six, or eight years ago is laughable and it reflects poorly on TE.

    Unfunded pension liabilities, which are not going away, are the key reasons for this and Fire is looking at cuts of more than 700k and EPD at around a million

    Like

  8. Pension Obligation Bonds have become poor investments nationwide.

    The late Bill Holmes had every reason to be outraged over the lack of public hearings on Eureka’s recent issuance of POB’s approved by a single judge.

    Qualifications for city council often rate “business owner” high on the list.

    One reason is that a prerequisite to growing and achieving a successful small business is the absolute necessity of saving money everywhere feasible.

    Pushing huge financial liabilities onto future generations is not feasible.

    Subsidizing one of the richest private clubs in Eureka (Chamber of Commerce) and funding this county’s zoo, (in a city with 3 shuttered schools lacking funds for adequate police and children’s services), is not feasible.

    There’s your million.

    What happened to that $35 million Martin Slough Interceptor boondoggle dumped on Eureka’s lap by those “sprawl-huggers” Tyson and his developer friends in Cutten?

    Looks like Tyson got out just in time…but not before padding his retirement, right?

    Like

  9. Oh hum. The names change but the city’s cash problem seems to be the same every year. It is the same old stuff, which cup is the pea under now. With a well honed “slight of hand” that goes on at city hall, we will never get a straight answer.The public was hoodwinked with prop “Q” as it was a few years ago and what is cut first, the police force of course. There is something in the water that makes Eurekans continue to vote in people and taxes that fail to solve the problems that have plagued the city for as long as I can remember. Time to look for greener pastures as the grass here does not have enough nutrients to keep a toad alive.

    Like

  10. Pingback: Tuluwat Examiner | Where the hell is the Eureka Police Officers Association on these pending budget cuts?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s