No budget for Oakland

So, like I said on Friday, I wanted to take a little time to review the Mayor’s three proposed budgets before commenting much on them.

When I first downloaded the Mayor’s proposed budgets, I had two immediate questions. One, despite all the doom and gloom and talk about how this is the worst budget in history, why do the cuts in all scenarios except for the one that includes no employee give-backs not seem all that bad? Two, why are the budget documents so short? I mean, normally the budget is like 800 pages, but every budget the Mayor presented is less than 300 pages. That seems weird, right?

Three incomplete budgets

So I have figured out the answers to both questions. The reason the cuts don’t seem all that bad are threefold:

  1. None of the scenarios anticipate any payments to PFRS: The Mayor seems to think that we’ll just bond again to cover this debt, but as many people have pointed out before, that could expose the City to much greater damage down the road (PDF). Should the Council not elect to just bond it out, that’s another $46 million liability we could be looking at this year.

  2. None of the scenarios factor in any potential Federal and State cuts: The Mayor says that we can’t budget for them since we don’t know what they will be yet. I understand that it’s difficult to budget for losses that are yet to be determined, but it seems reasonable to expect that there will be at least some reduction in revenue from those sources and plan for something.

  3. All three scenarios rely on property sales to balance the budget: No real details are provided with respect to these property sales. The transmittal letter (PDF) notes that the primary revenue source for these sales is the Kaiser Convention Center. However, the estimates in each scenario for the revenue to be generated by the sale vary wildly: $29 million in Scenario A, $12 million in Scenario B, and $20 million in Scenario C. There is no explanation provided anywhere for why these estimates are so different.

In short, these budgets are not complete. In her transmittal letter (PDF), Oakland Mayor Jean Quan acknowledges as much, saying “The worst case scenario of additional federal and state cuts and a decision not to bond the PFRS pension could lead to an additional $78 million deficit.” O.M.G.

I kind of dismissed Scenario A yesterday, since it is totally unrealistic to expect no employee givebacks (budget Scenarios B and C each rely on roughly $29 million in concessions). But after reading the budgets in more detail and realizing that none of them really account for the actual deficit we can expect, I’m kind of flipping out about it. Is that going to be the Mayor’s response to the inevitable need for further cuts? Shutting down fire stations and the Library System? Geez, I hope not!

All budgets lack specifics

The reason the budget is so short is that it includes far less information than previous budgets.

In the past, the budget’s Financial Summaries section (PDF) has included a lengthy history of fund balances for each fund going back 10 years, detailed breakdowns of expenditures for all the tax funds (LLAD, Wildfire Prevention Assessment District, Emergency Medical Services Retention Act, Paramedic Services Act, Measure Q, and Measure Y), detailed explanation of negative funds along with 10-year negative fund repayment schedules, and a detail listing of projects included in the Capital Improvement Program.

This budget includes none of that (PDF). The negative funds summary lists the funds and their projected balance, but does not include any information about status or repayment schedules.

The proposed budgets by department also contain far less information than was available in previous budgets. To give you an idea of just how much less, the CEDA section in the FY09-11 budget (PDF) was 53 pages long. The CEDA section in the proposed FY11-13 budgets (PDF) are 6 pages long. Some of that reduction may have been achieved through a switch to a more space efficient budget template, but previous budgets provided detailed listing of every funded position by position title in each department and revenues, expenditures, performance measures, and FTEs by fund for every program in the department side by side. Not only are the lists of funded jobs not included in this budget, the information about FTEs, revenues, and expenditures are all displayed separately. Revenues and expenditures are displayed in only one list, with no breakdown of which different funds that money comes from for each program.

As another example, take a look at the Non-Department budget from the previous cycle compared to this one. In the past, budgets contained a detailed list of grants provided by the city, showing where each grant is going and what the amount was. In the new budget, this is reduced to “Citywide Grants, Programs and Subsidies”. That’s it. Then:

FY 09-11 Grants List

now:

FY11-13 Grants in Prpposed Budget

In past budgets, the Non-Departmental section (PDF) included detailed lists of all debt payments by fund, as well as a lengthy explanation of all the City’s outstanding debt. In this budget, none of that information is provided.

The entire presentation is extremely opaque. I find the lack of completeness as well as the lack of transparency in the Mayor’s budgets alarming.

Major Changes common to all scenarios

All the budget scenarios include a number of changes to City operations and the City’s organizational structure. I don’t have too much to say about them, since virtually no information is provided in any of the documents to explain how these changes might improve or disrupt service or the anticipated cost savings of any of them.

I’m assuming more detailed explanations of these changes will be provided at next Thursday’s Council meeting, but for now, this is all I have.

  • Contracting and Purchasing Department merged with other departments: Under all three scenarios, parts of the city’s Contracting and Purchasing Department would be absorbed by other departments — purchasing would be moved to Finance, contract administration would be moved to public works, and contract compliance would be moved to the City Administrator.

    The Contracting and Purchasing department was created in 2007 in former Mayor Ron Dellums’s first budget (PDF). In his transmittal letter (PDF), he offered:

    My goal is to make Oakland’s contracting and purchasing process more effective and more transparent…In this proposal, we have consolidated the various purchasing and contracting divisions previously in various departments and have centralized this function in a single department.

    I guess it didn’t work out? And that’s fine, I suppose. Maybe the change should have been scrutinized a little more in 2007? In any case, I think there is often a strong temptation to solve problems through reorganization. Sometimes it’s the right move, sometimes it isn’t, but I think these kinds of changes need to be considered a little more carefully than we’ve done in the past, or you just end up going back and forth every couple of years.

  • Parking would be split up: Parking Payments would be moved to the first floor instead of the 6th floor of 250 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, and practical administration of parking would move to the Finance and Management Agency, while parking policy would remain under Public Works.

  • The creation of a Life Enrichment Agency: Human Services, the Library, and Parks & Recreation would be combined into a Life Enrichment Agency in FY 12-13. The budget does not specify how this would work, only that details will be figured out by a task force at some point in the next year and the anticipated savings are one million dollars. It was less than 10 years ago when these departments last existed under the umbrella of a Life Enrichment Agency. I wasn’t really paying attention then, so I don’t know why they were separated, but it seems reasonable to presume that it was done, like most reorganizations, to save money. (Can someone older than me fill in the details there?)

    This goes back to what I was saying about Contracting and Purchasing. Maybe the shift would save Oakland money, maybe it wouldn’t. But these things shouldn’t be done at random or without thought. What kind of service disruption would such a change involve? Any? How many positions would be reduced? Where does that million dollars in savings come from? I don’t know how the Council can be expected to make decisions like this based on so little analysis.

  • 15% cut to all elected offices: No specifics are given for how these cuts might be achieved or the staffing or service impacts that would arise from them.

  • Severe reductions to KTOP: Under all three scenarios, KTOP programming would be reduced to televising only meetings of the City Council, Port Commission, and Planning Commission. It is unclear to me whether this change would include stopping recording Council committees or not, which I would view as completely unacceptable. It would definitely eliminate the broadcast of the Public Ethics Commission, Measure Y Oversight Committee, Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board, and the Cultural Affairs Commission.

    Adding to my confusion over this item is the fact that nowhere in the budget does it explain what kind of cost savings the City would realize from such a move. Eliminating the broadcast of public meetings is a severe step backwards in the realm of open and transparent government, and one that should be approached with serious caution. I could see some scenario where maybe some reduction of televised meetings might be acceptable in order to preserve vital services, but of course it isn’t possible to make that judgement without actual information about the trade-offs we’re looking at.

    In the FY09-11 budget, KTOP receives almost no funding from the General Fund (PDF) — it is paid entirely out of Telecommunications (Fund 1760) and Redevelopment (Fund 7780). In the Significant Changes sections of the Mayor’s proposed budget, there is a transfer of one IT position to 1760, with a General Fund savings listed of $120,000. Total KTOP revenue in the Mayor’s proposed budget goes from $1,143,720 in FY10-11 to $1,298,114 in FY11-12, whereas funding for the program goes from $1,454,000 in FY10-11 to $1,193,628 in FY11-12. Why? It doesn’t say anywhere. Could these cost savings be realized instead through reducing production of original programming instead of broadcasting public meetings? Who knows.

  • Civilianization of Police Department: all budget scenarios include a civilian Inspector General managing the Police Department’s Office of the Inspector General and reporting directly to the City Administrator. No details are provided about the impacts for or reasoning behind this change.

I’ll hold off on judgment as to whether any of these changes are a good idea until more details are provided. In general, I have to say that the lack of rationale or explanation provided for any of them causes me concern. It adds to the overall sense I have that these budgets are kind of slapdash — in one of the three budget documents offered by the Mayor, three departments are missing entirely!

Bite-sized budget documents

I don’t know about you guys, but I have a hard time working from huge PDFs, especially when I am trying to compare between documents. When you’ve got hundreds pages to scroll through, it’s easy to kind of miss certain parts. So something I usually do to help digest these big files is to break them up into pieces, which allows me to really focus on one part at a time, and ensures that I don’t miss anything.

I don’t know if anyone else has that problem, but just in case, I thought I might as well post the files here to make it easier for you guys to examine different parts of the budget. So below, I have listed links to the Mayor’s budget proposal broken down by department (plus the full budgets, transmittal letters, financial summaries, and such) in each of the three budget scenarios that were offered. For comparison, I have also included each department’s section from the Adopted FY09-11 budget (keep in mind, though, when reading those, that cuts have been made since that budget was adopted). All files are in PDF format.

Have fun!

Complete Budget Documents

Transmittal Letters

Proposed Budget Financial Summaries and Budget Detail by Department

Financial Summaries

Significant Changes

Mayor

City Council

City Auditor

City Attorney

City Administrator

City Clerk

Contracting and Purchasing

Information Technology

Finance & Management Agency

Human Resources

Police Services

Fire Services

Oakland Museum

Oakland Public Library

Parks and Recreation

Human Services

Public Works Agency

Community and Economic Development

Non-Departmental

Capital Improvement Program

38 thoughts on “No budget for Oakland

  1. Daniel Schulman

    Wow – that’s a tremendous amount of work you’ve put into helping us all understand the current budget process. Just wrangling all those PDFs must have taken considerable time let alone all of the summary and analysis. Thank you very much for all this effort – it is much appreciated.

  2. Bruce Nye

    Thanks V, the cut up pieces will be really helpful for a lot of people. MOBN! is going to be going through the proposals department by department in the next few days and making its analysis available starting very soon, I hope. I just finished going through Public Works, using it as a template for what we’re going to be doing, and wow are there a lot of questions. Much more coming soon.

  3. Jim T

    V, just wanted to echo the gratitude. You do the city and community a great service. And really, this must’ve been a ton of work. You get paid for this, right?

  4. Dax

    Is there any indication in the options as to what the employee concessions are expected to be?

    Something simple sounding, along the lines of San Jose’s 10% cut for everybody and then still needing some layoffs.

    Why is Chuck Reed able to be so much more specific than Jean Quan?

    I don’t seem to recall anyone, the mayor, the city council members, or the unions, speaking about something specific, such as we find in San Jose.

  5. V Smoothe

    Dax –

    All unions are currently in bargaining with the City trying to hammer out an agreement, so nobody is discussing details at this point.

  6. Oakie

    “None of the scenarios anticipate any payments to PFRS: The Mayor seems to think that we’ll just bond again to cover this debt”

    None of the scenarios factor in any potential Federal and State cuts”

    Doesn’t anyone remember what Quan did before she joined the city council? She was on the OUSD school board, leading that into bankruptcy (after an interlude of shoving “ebonics is GENETIC language of the ghetto and needs to be recognized”).

    So what about this is not predictable? And, hey, the majority of voters here elected her. Fair and square. Now enjoy the juice you’re stewing in.

    Oh, and wait a short time until the markets recognize municipal bonds for what they have become. Unsustainable. And enjoy the ride the market interest rates that will be demanded for them to buy our bonds. One thing is perfectly clear: when that day of reckoning comes, this city will no longer be capable of generating tax revenues to sustain this mess. Bankruptcy will not be an option any longer. Stick a fork in this city, it’s done.

  7. jeanjohn

    These people are so incompetent. Why is this not simple. Make oakland safe and people will come to Oakland. budget crisis solved.

  8. Livegreen

    They’re probably hoping they can push PFRS & some other labor/personnel management issues off long enough that somebody else will have to deal with the consquences. & blame.

    In the meantime OUSD actually has worked out a budget that includes most (though not all) cuts coming down from the State. One might not agree with some of their tough decisions (cutting Adult Ed for example) but at least they’ve made them.

  9. Naomi Schiff

    V, that’s excellent, breaking the thing down into digestible parts, and I am extremely grateful for your work on this. Thanks so, so much!

    I have some doubt about whether the sale of the HJK convention center is going to save us. It needs some work. The Twelfth St. project is still going on. It’s been more or less on the market before. Not sure I’m seeing how this happens, nor how it makes enough money to save the budget.

  10. V Smoothe Post author

    I don’t even understand the thing about selling the Kaiser Convention Center. At a Council meeting a few months ago, Dan Lindheim said that they had just sold the Kaiser Center to the Redevelopment Agency. Can we really sell a building owned by the Redevelopment Agency and deposit the proceeds in the General Fund? That doesn’t seem right at all. Or did the sale not go through? Was Lindheim joking when he said that? I am so confused.

  11. Max Allstadt

    But in anticipation of Jerry Brown’s plan to end redevelopment, didn’t the ORA recently transfer tons of assets to the city? I’m beginning to get a little confused here too…

  12. len raphael

    Amusing that Quan et al are in denial about the direction of Congress and the CA state legislature.

    But what do you expect from someone who during the campaign was predicting the economy and real estate tax revenue would bounce back and the pension investments would recover in a few years.

    Or that more recreation and anti violence programs will reduce homicides in our lifetimes.

    But the really wierd thing is that hecka residents here want to believe her.

    It’s called hope.

    -len raphael, temescal

  13. Buck

    Great work and much more is needed to clean up Oakland’s finances. City has never answered the question of where the cash is/has come from to cover the $138+million in negative fund/cash balances. And why are the Edgerly cronies still managing/manipulating the City’s money (Treasury Manager Katano Kasaine and her brother (City Controller) Osborne, and Edgerly’s cousin (Deborah Barnes) managing city contracts and purchasing?

  14. LoveOakland

    RE Negative fund balances

    When the city refers to neg fund balances in Internal Service Funds, here is what that is: When the Police Dept computer breaks and someone from IT comes to fix it, OPD is billed by IT. If OPD doesn’t pay, the ‘debt’ remains on the books. Since both are funded by the General Fund, it is a little bit of a zero sum game. In most cases neg balances in ISFs are money owed by one city department to another.

    If some departments seem to be taking a bigger hit than others, it is probably linked to the amount of general fund money they get. Overall, Public Works doesn’t get that much GF compared to OFD.

  15. LoveOakland

    RE redevelopment

    For now, getting rid of redevelopment is stalled. The Governor doesn’t have the votes. Compromise discussions are seriously underway and we’ll have to wait and see. Many CA cities are doing asset transfers and other things to encumber the money so that if Redevelopment is abolished, there will be less money for the state to take from the city.

  16. LoveOakland

    Per Dax and V re concessions:

    The San Jose concessions are a combo of employees paying more towards their retirement program and salary cuts = to 10% of salary and similar to the cuts that Oakland employees took 2 years ago. The diff besides time is that SJ Police are taking the cut too.

  17. livegreen

    The SJ layoffs are scheduled for end June, depending on Negotiations. Re. SJ employees 10% the news just says it’s “pay”. re. SJPD pay and retirement concessions:

    “In addition to the 10 percent [temporary] pay cut, the officers also offered a cheaper “second-tier” pension plan for future hires, plus an option for current officers to agree to reduced pensions.
    Police said the reduced pension offer could save nearly $7 million in 2012 and more than $100 million over 16 years. But they acknowledged that they cannot say for sure how many officers would opt for reduced pensions.
    The cops also offered to phase out a perk that allows retiring officers to cash out unused sick leave by capping accruals for existing officers. The city has seen sick-leave cashout costs more than double in five years to $14 million. But Gurza noted that there would be little immediate savings from that offer.”

    http://www.mercurynews.com/politics-government/ci_17960267?IADID=Search-www.mercurynews.comwww.mercurynews.com

  18. Livegreen

    Question re Negotiations w the Unions: Will the City take into account that a Parcel Tax might not pass? Or will they negotiate the contracts in the Short Term while expecting a Parcel Tax in the Medium Term?

    I know this sounds both silly and like it defies common sense but, given the video of Desley Brooks’ comments in V’s other post, and given how the State just ratified Union contracts that actually ADD to the Govenor’s projected deficits (& therefor must come up with extra money from additional cuts OR more taxes), I am curious which order things will develop in Oakland?

  19. SF2OAK

    just got the JQ self promotion newsletter. Budget is number 2 item after Cinco de Mayo and Mother’s day. JQ begins budget discussion w/ “Last Friday was one of the saddest days for me in 20 years as a public servant.” Then 20 years ago was saddest day for me- the day she began. You can see OAK decline since then what has been in her wake? A bankrupt OUSD, lowest police staffing and no real true reforms of city government, and higher taxes- no accountability to taxpayers at all! How incumbents win elections in OAK is scary (and says a lot of the power of incumbency.) I only wish JQ would get real and demand accountability to her citizens.

  20. Dax

    Regarding negotiations with the unions about changes that can make the budgets work.

    Is there anyone in the room representing the citizens of Oakland?

    Or is the closest thing we have, the long time team that has put us into deficits even during the “good times”.

    Quan, De La Fuente, Brunner, Nadel, and Reid. All veterans dating back 8 or more years who have given the unions everything they’ve wanted.

    So we have (A) the unions, (B) the above veterans, and (C) the “staff”, all of whom are also depending on the budget outcome for their own income.

    Shades of the same brew that gave us 35% retroactive pension increases in 2004

    Lets, see, who isn’t at the table?
    Who has the least influence on the outcome?
    Doh!

  21. Dax

    Love Oakland, Still waiting, along with MarleeLee, to learn about the 10% cut in wages that Oakland employees took two years ago.

    San Jose seems to be facing the hard facts.
    That attitude seems to have been passed on with all their employee groups.
    Mayor Reed is not talking nonsense or trying to please everyone. Talking like an adult to adults as though the audience can understand basic math.

    He also plainly states the pension contributions are growing extreme and in the next few years will be killer.

    “Roughly half of the $115 million budget deficit for next year — $58 million — is needed to pay for additional pension contribution costs.”

    http://www.mercurynews.com/politics-government/ci_17978463

    After that year, those “additional” payments grow to something like $240 million per year over the subsequent 4 years.

    Oakland has a similar problem but it seems no one has spelled it out to the public in a similar fashion.

    What are Oakland’s pension costs for 2012, thru 2016?
    Both sets of pensions, as even CalPERS contributions will grow.

    I suspect any realistic estimate of pension contribution obligations from 2012 thru 2017 will make the current negotiations look rather absurd.

    Does anyone have such a “all important” set of estimates? Staff? Council? Mayor?

  22. livegreen

    Will the City negotiate it’s multiple year contracts first, then look at multiple year pensions and implicated budget details later? As if they’re unrelated?

  23. e. grey

    RE KTOP

    This cut is being made for exactly the reason you think – to cut off access to government decision-making and deter public input. The internet has made it a lot easier – allowing a massive increase in the number of sources of information on government actions and allowing people to follow them in a time-effective manner. (Thanks to things like this blog.) The bureaucrats would prefer to slide back under the dark recesses, nooks and crannies where they used to be able to do their business without being seen or noticed by anyone but insiders.

    I bet you will discover committee meetings will no longer be covered if you check.

    REORGANIZATION OF THE LIBRARY:

    The reason? Maybe the fact that Measure Q, the library parcel tax, requires $9 million in general fund contributions in order to collect $15 million in Measure Q assessments. This provision was (wisely) placed in the Measure in order to ensure a minimum level of library funding and to ensure the Measure Q assessments SUPPLEMENTED rather than replaced normal general fund funding.

    I presume that with the Life Enhancement Dept, the City will now easily be able to show it has made its $9 million general fund contribution, when in reality its $9 million is being spent on Health and Human Services and/or Park and Recreation functions, rather than libraries!

    This is even more likely when you realize that John Russo, the City Attorney, issued a Legal Opinion in 2008 declaring that:

    “While the terms of Measure Q dictate and limit how the proceeds of the tax may be used, the prescribed usages are expressed as objectives, not as requirements.”

    See Legal Opinion at http://www.piedmontcivic.org/wp-admin/While%20the%20terms%20of%20Measure%20Q%20dictate%20and%20limit%20how%20the%20proceeds%20of%20the%20tax%20may%20be%20used,%20the%20prescribed%20usages%20are%20expressed%20as%20objectives,%20not%20as%20requirements. )

  24. Colin

    V – thanks for all the hard work to make the budget information available and accessible. It’s really great that our town has a committed set of citizen-bloggers to watch over this stuff.

    As a business person, I always find government budgeting processes and reports perplexing.

    Businesses report their financial statements using three different tools, each of which addresses a different question:
    1) an income statement, which indicates whether you are profitable or not
    2) a statement of cash flows, which measures whether enough cash is coming in to keep you solvent — this is different than 1 since cash receipts may not be timed to be received before outlays go out, and this can get you into big trouble; and
    3) a balance sheet which measures your assets and liabilities, and allows you to monitor over time whether your asset base is being depleted, and makes very clear what your liabilities are over time.

    The Oakland budget scenarios are an incomplete version of #2, at best, with enough hints at parts of #3 (i.e. “fund balances”) to make you believe they’ve actually thought about it. But you can only deplete the asset base so long before it catches up to you.

    We really need a better balance sheet view. It’s pretty clear that some of the lingering liabilities (pensions) need to be made more transparent. And also that the asset base is being depleted, both by asset sales (HJK) and by failing to spend the capital expenditures to maintain the infrastructure (deferred road payment schedules, etc.).

    This is probably a longer term project, but would MOBN or someone else want to take on the creation of a balance sheet analysis for Oakland?

    When I was in grad school I remember hearing about someone whose masters thesis was the creation of the balance sheet for the US government — so it isn’t like Oakland is the only governmental entity to lack this perspective. But we need it.

  25. Dax

    Crucial to any workable budget is the degree to which compensation reduction that can be accomplished.

    Article in Contra Costa Times. Not in obvious view on Oakland Tribune online. Regarding a new study about California public employee compensation.
    Oakland is a classic example of the local government excess compensation they found.

    http://www.contracostatimes.com/top-stories/ci_18009503

    Now, I have not read the 100 page report yet, but it sounds like they did one of the truer “apples to apples” analysis than we normally find in such reports.
    However union leaders will decry it as biased and false in the conclusions.

    Only if Oakland leaders and employees can approach the issue in a manner such as San Jose did, will anything be accomplished.
    Of course, that would require a “Quan-tum” leap in reality and responsibility.

  26. len raphael

    Dax, the most common response in temescal and rockridge to an article like that would be:

    1. anything written by a Terminator appointee must be anti union

    2. attack the organization that paid for the study

    3. accept the findings with “Why shouldn’t govt employees, especially less skilled ones, get paid a decent wage with decent benefits”. Instead of taking them away, we should be fighting for all employees to get the same.

    -len raphael, temescal

  27. len raphael

    Colin, the task you propose is complicated in part because many of the liabilities are “off balance sheet” for state and city accounting rules.

    unless you do what NYC supposedly does, which is to use private sector gaap accounting for budgeting purposes.

    NYC is rich enough, big enough,and has a twenty year track history of doing that, so bond underwriters don’t get spooked by it.

    but i could see if oakland adopted such a method for budgeting, there’d be a run on the bank. sure, private groups could do that, elected officials and residents would pay no never mind to the info.

    -len raphael, temescal

  28. Dax

    Len

    “#3. accept the findings with “Why shouldn’t govt employees, especially less skilled ones, get paid a decent wage with decent benefits”. Instead of taking them away, we should be fighting for all employees to get the same.”

    Yes, I often see city leaders and workers marching for all of us to gain better wages and benefits.
    Supporting our wages by only requesting a $80 parcel tax, when everyone knows a $480 parcel tax would really be needed.

    And retire at 55… Why its nearly a human rights issue. If Greece can do it, why can’t we all.

  29. Ken O

    Here’s a GREAT illustration of what’s happened to every large institution in America, and as you the fellow reader/commenter will likely agree, City of Oakland.

    The one saving grace for Oakland in this time of black flight and white reverse flight (in broad generalization) is that people with money (“gentry”) are moving back to historic cities (which Oakland classifies as) which will for a brief time, allow the city family to continue extracting more taxes (for “libraries, parks and police” of course) and delay the inevitable death of the city institution as it now stands. (That should happen by 2025, or 14 years hence.)

    http://www.oftwominds.com/blogmay11/failure5-11.html

    This blog disallows embedded images in comments but here’s link to the money graphic:

    http://www.oftwominds.com/photos10/lifecycle-bureaucracy.png

    “America’s institutions are like stars about to go super-nova. They have increased in size to the point where their mass guarantees that once their energy source (as measured in fossil fuels and money) falls below a certain threshold, the institution will collapse inward on itself.

    Until then, the best that we can do is to avoid official entanglements, lower our own cost basis, pay off debt owed to the Death Star Financial System and reduce our dependency on the institutions which are currently expanding in the final stages before they go super-nova and implode.

    And don’t take it personally if things fall apart around you. We’re all doing our best, but we can’t control everything around us.”

  30. Buck

    Need to get the City Auditor or outside party to undertake a thorough review of the negative fund balances and where the cash is being taken from to cover the $138 million in negative fund balances. Also need to have the City Auditor or outside party to examine the whether positions are legally supported by non-general funds. It is questionable whether many positions are legally funded by the False Alarm Program or Mandatory Garbage Fund. Both of these funds are fee-based and only those positions that are legitimately supporting those programs should be funded by the fee-based funds.

  31. ralph

    Buck, add to your list the Excess Litter Fee Fund. Why does the the City Adm get $441K? There are probably more we just haven’t found.

  32. FloodedByCEDA

    The city survey Department 5 positions is funded from the restricted 3100 sewer service fund.

  33. Livegreen

    In her quest for Open Government does the Mayor include the Budget? She is opening herself to political challenge. Especially if she needs to ask for additional taxes to solve future year deficits (and after multiple-year labor contracts are renewed).

    Which begs the question: should union contracts cover similar time-periods as the budget, and/or gave fiscal emergency clauses built in?