Eureka PD is now facing potential cuts to the tune of $834,000, according to the Times-Standard and Chief Andy Mills. Those cuts, as proposed by Mills, would include bumping a Lieutenants position to a regular patrol position and then cutting all annuitants, public service officers (PSO’s) and temporary positions.
If those cuts are enacted, folks in Eureka can expect even less service from the PD than their currently getting. For example, most non-injury collisions, vehicle burglaries, animal calls, and many other non-life threatening calls are handled by PSO’s. Those calls would be handled by Officers, if they ever had the time to show up between dealing with dangerous crimes and emergencies in the city.
From the Times-Standard article:
Councilwoman Marian Brady said these proposals are still hypothetical. “We’ve only just gotten fully staffed under Chief Mills so I find it hard to believe that that is going to be the direction we’re going to go,” Brady said. She said that making personnel cuts at this point would be like taking a step backward.
Mayor Frank Jager said that he thinks the cuts would be unfair to the public, after the commitment they made to public safety with Measure Q, a sales tax extension measure approved by voters last year.
“I don’t believe the council would be very quick to cut public safety positions when they promised that wouldn’t happen,” Jager said. ”
Ahhh….the Brady Bunch speaks. It would give them too much credit, but is it possible this was the right winger plan to begin with? When the “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs” conservative council had a majority, meaningful cuts weren’t made in the City. For four years, while getting Measure O funding, the Council didn’t cut in non-essential areas and keep good reserves up for the City. In fact, the numbers speak for themselves. From 2011-2014, the following monies were spent from the general fund (numbers have been provided from the cities website and have been rounded):
Visitors/Convention Bureau- $1,372,000
Chamber of Commerce- $410,000
Business Improvement Dist- $104,000
Sequoia Park Zoo- $2,392,000 (this doesn’t include the money spent on the Zoo hidden in Parks and Rec employee salaries along with other accounting tricks)
That’s almost $4.3 Million dollars spent in just those 4 areas alone. We didn’t even scratch the surface of all the discretionary spending the Council approved of over the last several years. Now we have a progressive majority, and the poor decisions from the past might force them to cut areas that are essential to Eureka…….or that’s what we’re being led to believe.
According to the Cities online budget documents (which don’t reflect every change made throughout the actual budget cycle made by the council), the following areas were budgeted for 2014-2015:
Sequioa Park Zoo- $921,488 (again, doesn’t include any accounting tricks done to hide spending)
Visitors/Convention Bureau- $450,000
Chamber of Commerce- $121,500 (not including the rent free property provided by the city)
Business Improvement Dist- $35,000
Those are some areas to look at, and it took the Examiner about five minutes to locate them in the line item budget provided on the cities website. But what about some other creative money saving ideas?
How about having a consolidated dispatch center with the County? Fire has saved some money through consolidation. Consolidated dispatch centers are successful in many other areas in California, and the level of service isn’t affected.
How about having an outside agency make recommendations to the Council so that the Council could force city departments to use the “best practices” that could prevent so many lawsuits generated from the crappy way that the City handles business (such as police killings, sexual harassment and discrimination, unlawful terminations, etc.).
How’s about a true Code Enforcement unit that would generate funds through the process of cleaning up derelict/slum rentals in Eureka?
What about fines for businesses that allow their shopping carts to be stolen, then recovered by EPD? We bet that fines would force the businesses to either generate a nice revenue stream for Eureka, or the businesses would do the right thing and spend a little extra to get carts that have security measures preventing them from being taken off the property?
How about drafting an ordinance and allowing medical marijuana dispensaries into Eureka?
The list can go on with money savings/revenue generation, and with this Council we’re hoping that they won’t just use the same old technique of “Cut every department by 10%”. The budget needs to be based on priorities. The top priority in Eureka is Public Safety.
It’s time to buckle down and make the tough decisions. Don’t follow the old Brady Bunch model of kicking the can down the road….because the road is getting close to hitting a DEAD end!
As a side note, Chief Mills “leaked” his City Manager approved email to the Times-Standard (see the link above). Obviously the “leaked” memo was sent out in an effort to mitigate the “unapproved” email we got from an insider at the city. Since the City felt compelled to make sure the “official” talking points were put out to other media sources, we figured we might as well just release the full email that we received:
“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.
My plan is to cut costs and vacant positions first if needed. I will see how close we get that way before we get too worried. I will keep you informed along the way and if you have any questions please call me on my cell phone.
I know this means a lot to each person here and it does affect the moral of our department. The Captains and I take it seriously and want you to know we will fight for you. If you have suggestions please let us know.”