Heystek Presents Alternative Budget Proposal

lamar_heystekLast night during the Davis City Council Meeting, Councilmember Lamar Heystek began to take matters into his own hands as frustration about the city’s budget proposal has grown.  Instead of merely opposing the current proposals laid out by finance director Paul Navazio, the councilmember boldly proposed his own alternative.

There are two key planks to the alternative budget as laid forth by Mr. Heystek.  First, the belief that the current 850,000 dollar reduction in salary compensation which represents perhaps a little over 3% of their total budget is insufficient.  Councilmember Heystek instead proposed a 5% reduction in total compensation for employees.

Second, $1.5 million in savings is wrapped up in the tier reductions, which are basically the cutting of programs and service to the public.  Mr. Heystek’s budget begins to address these cuts, removing some of them from the cut list.

One thing that is important for people to understand, these proposed cuts are more or less permanent because the projection is that the city will maintain its deficits through the out-years–fiscal year 2013-14 and perhaps beyond that.  The only way to cut into those deficits are to maintain these current levels of cuts and then build on them.

The council’s response to Mr. Heystek’s proposal was mixed.  At first, it clearly caught most of them off-guard.  Councilmember Sue Greenwald spoke immediately afterwards and began pushing for deep cuts to pensions and other benefits as a means to address some of the concerns that Councilmember Heystek raised.  Mayor Pro Tem Saylor was initially caught off-guard, but eventually both he and the Mayor both expressed support for the current proposal by Mr. Navazio, although Mr. Saylor did express the belief for the first time that perhaps some of the benefits awarded during better times might be unaffordable and unsustainable.

The Budget Proposal

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Councilmember Lamar Heystek begins by changing the revenue assumptions from the ones that Paul Navazio used.  Navazio’s revenue assumptions call for a modest but immediate increase in revenue.  How realistic are those assumptions given the economy?  They seem very problematic.  So Heystek looks at a deeper loss of sales tax revenue for this next year (and this current year) and no gain in property tax and vehicle license fees for 09/10.  For 10/11, he reduces property tax, sales tax, and the property transfer to zero and cuts the VLF from 3.5% increase to a more modest $2% increase.

All told these reduce total revenues to negative for the next three years which is a much more realistic assumption than the modest growth in revenue.

Mayor Pro Tem Saylor would later criticize Councilmember Heystek saying he preferred to use Navazio’s “real numbers” rather than “making them up.”  Clearly he doesn’t understand the concept of assumptions in a model and recognize how a model’s validity is only as good as the assumptions that go into it.

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Councilmember Heystek’s model also looks at a future revision in the retirement health benefit and CalPERS contribution costs.  This is a point that Councilmember Sue Greenwald would really hammer on later that caused two of the councilmembers (Souza and Saylor) to complain about the demonization of employees.  Personally, I think we can value our employees while still recognizing that in the past we made decisions that were too generous and as even Mr. Saylor acknowledged may be unsustainable given current realities.

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This the key slide as it shows the overview of the budgetary priorities for Councilmember Heystek and how it differs from Mr. Navazio’s budget.

First, he argues for additional revenues that take $466,000 off the budget rather than the $310,000 in additional revenues for Mr. Navazio.

Second, he looks at additional citywide cost savings of just under one million.

Third, he looks at a 5% reduction in total compensation which bumps the savings from $850,000 representing around 2.69% to $1.575 million.  Finally he somewhat reduces the tier savings from $1.492 to $1.282 million.

The key difference is that his budget produces a $1.132 million surplus rather than the $306,000 that Navazio’s suggests.  We are going to need this to buffer against additional losses that have already been thrown into the works.  Those include the loss of the Professional Standards Sergeant for the Police, cuts to child care, and other potential losses given the state’s predicament.

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Councilmember Heystek looks at some additional revenues including a Business License Fee from Landlords that would be roughly $25,000.  Cost recovery from at-fault public safety responses.  And the revenue generated by keeping the parking enforcement officer that the city is proposing cutting.  More on that in a moment.

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Here are some of the key provisions of the citywide cost-savings measures.

First, the city’s proposal sought a reduction of overtime by $150,000, Mr. Heystek proposes a cut of $350,000.

Second, he reduces the departmental  reorganizational savings to $471,354.  Finally he adds in a change in the work week from go to four days at tens hours per day.  The projected savings of energy would be roughly $100,000, although it may go up higher.  This would of course have to be negotiated in the MOU.

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Here we see why the departmental re-organization savings drops as Councilmember Heystek removes the loss of the Professional Standards Sergeant for the police.  This is the individual in charge of internal affairs who does the investigations on the police side into complaints.

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Here we see the renewed call for additional labor negotiation cuts.  $850,000 is largely based on current proposals.  Mr. Heystek suggested that the city needs to take a stronger approach than it has in labor negotiations to achieve at least a five percent reduction in costs.

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There are two changes here, first the removal of the reduction of the Ombudsman position by 3 to 5 hours per month or $10,000.  And second, making up that difference by doubling the cuts to the city attorney’s contract to 20% or $84,000.  Remember often the city is paying the city attorney to sit quietly at meetings.

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Councilmember Heystek’s budget leaves the cuts for the community development department untouched.

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Eliminates several of the cuts to recreational programs–a point that was raised in public comments by a number of children who pleaded with the council not to cut their swimming programs.

Second, is the elimination of the reduction in support of the Davis Media Access programming that would have resulted in the cutting that department’s staffing in half.  This is an absolutely vital program to community education.

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This eliminates a number of cuts to the police department.  As Mr. Heystek mentioned, the reduction in parking enforcement effort and loss of position would actually cost the city revenue as each officer provides about $105,000 in parking ticket revenue.

He would also eliminate the cut to the administrative position that would response to public enquiries and would have closed the public counter on Saturdays.

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This leaves the fire department cuts in place.

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Removes from the cuts parks maintenance contracts and part-time staff that deal with general park upkeep and respond to citizen calls and complaints.

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A reduction in the cuts to public works in terms of signal repair, signage and street striping.

Councilmember Lamar Heystek’s proposals now give us a positive plan that can serve as an alternative rather than the city’s plan.  Unfortunately, it seems that at least two of the councilmembers while intrigued dismissed it by the end of the meeting.  Therefore if the public wishes for this be more seriously considered, they will have to push for it.

It is notable that while council chambers were filled with public speakers for the renewal of Measure J–and with good reason–that during the budget cuts, the chambers were nearly devoid of members of the public.  This was a point not lost on the Mayor Pro Tem who took as a sign that the public recognizes that tough choices must be made. 

I suspect he is wrong here and that part of the problem is that many of these decisions are too abstract.  If the city were to close a school, the place would be packed.  However, there is no real equivalent in city government.  Most of the tier cuts do not affect people’s everyday life to that extent and therefore they will not come to council to complain.

Moreover the dangers of failing to deal with structural problems will manifest themselves down the road.  The dealing with numbers and abstractions rarely brings the public out in ways they would be out with say the closing of schools or the cutting of teacher’s positions.

That is simply the reality of it, but that does not make this issue any less important.  Councilmember Heystek spent a long time working on this proposal and there are probably other means by which to save money that could be considered down the line as well such as looking at contracts with vendors and the cost of the city doing business.  Nevertheless this was an impressive start for a new conversation.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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28 Comments

  1. Remy

    Amazing. We have a leader. An element of government that has been missing not only locally but in Sacramento as well. Someone who is willing to take a stand, challenge the same old crap, have a vision of change, think long term, having courage to stand alone. Hats off to you Lamar. I will stand with you.

  2. Anonymous

    Lamar should be paid for doing staff’s work. Doesn’t he already have a full-time job? The city’s financial problems are obviously keeping one of our councilmembers busy. Whether you agree with him or not, we are lucky to have a public servant who doesn’t automatically accept what has been spoon-fed to the others.

  3. Mike Hart

    Congratulations Lamar- its nice to see someone try to move the council beyond rhetoric or blindly adopting staff recommendations. I used to think that Sue was the only one who actually read the budgets and who tried to understand where the numbers come from…

  4. Mike Harrington

    Lamar: WOW! How do you do it? I know that you work fulltime. I havent said anything on the blog, but I have been reading the latest staff proposals on the budget, and obviously most of it made little sense. The big financial picure is not about a few city programs and cutting them, but that employee compensation grew hugely throughout the last 6 years or so. The increases far outstrip revenue increases.

    So it’s obvious want needs to be done, and the CC had better do it, and not strip out valuable city programs that people value. Make those hard choices, and reduce the compensation outflows to a break even balanced budget.

  5. progressive observer

    Outstanding work by Councilmember Heystek who line by line showed the budget could be trimed while some programs saved and that more realistic projections of future revenues must be used to better understand our current budget crisis and plan for the future.

  6. progressive observer

    Also, thank you Councilmember Greenwald for once again highlighting the fact that overly generous salaries and retirement benefits for some employee bargaining units are putting the City’s finances in peril now and into the future.

  7. Jim Watson

    Thanks Lamar. Your ideas are clearly thought out and make a lot of sense. It’s great that you are willing to promote fiscal responsibility and provide real world solutions.

  8. Ryan Kelly

    This is good work. It is nice to see someone come up with an alternative proposal and not just sit back and complain about the same old stuff without an executable plan for resolving it. Thank you, Lamar.

  9. Anon

    Lamar and Sue need to JOIN FORCES, and hammer away at the Council majority that we need structural reforms, not nickle and dime stuff. A 5% cut in city staff salaries and reduction in their benefits at the very least. How about 3 man fire teams as a cost cutting measure? The ASS axis of evil are showing themselves to be completely inept, and led around by the nose by city staff/Bill Emlen.

  10. Mike Harrington

    Anon: “The ASS axis of evil are showing themselves to be completely inept, and led around by the nose by city staff/Bill Emlen.”

    Your personal attacks and calling the CC members and staff evil is deeply offensive.

    Staff are motivated to hang on to the exceess compensation and benefits that the CC has given them these past. Is this evil? No. Staff have built their lifestyles and spending commitments around those numbers. I don’t blame them.

    The CC majority is partially beholden to the firefighters who have the highest pay rates and largest increases over recent history. So the CC majority obviously does not want to take on the union that contributes huge sums of money and free labor to their campaigns. The majority’s position to leave the firefighters mostly alone is a calculated, rational. It does not make them evil. If the voters put those candidates in office, then expect the votes you see, and the avoidance of any meaningful attempts to reduce the salaries of the most expensive employees in town as a means to bring those salaries more in line with contemporary revenue streams.

    Anon, please save your vicious personal attacks for private emails you can send to those CC members and staff, if you want them to know who you are.

  11. Old Man River

    With UCD students accepting 10+% fee increases, and state + county workers facing furloughs and wage cuts totalling 15+%, why are our city leaders folding for wage reductions that amount to rounding errors. If, as the Governor says, we all have to take a haircut, how come firefighters and other city workers get off with just a shampoo and a nose hair trim? And how will the rest of us pay for their free rides with our own reduced income and savings.

  12. angry

    Harrington is right… all employees, irrespective of their professional credentials, should take, at a minimum, a 30 % pay cut, to put them down towards the salary that clerical workers get… if they are any good, they should be in the private sector… we, as citizens should expect public servants to be exactly that… servants… they should pay for all benefits…

  13. John D.

    Boy you all like to whip up a frenzy for a simple plan that merely means stealing from Peter to…well, simply put, put it in your own pockets. How creative and ingenious is it to just say, “Take more.”? Stop treating him like a saint. He’s no better than any other self-serving politician who realizes that a very significant portion of the voters consider themselves (right or wrong in their belief) under paid and struggling because of the rich. It’s tough to get votes without pandering to people with low self-image.

    You’re mad at the bankers, auto execs, and all the rest of those who really brought about the plight we’re in. Your solution, born of your sense of helplessness and frustration that comes from being generally obtuse and short-sighted–not able to think beyond sand-box antics? Here it is–revel in it’s simplicity (imbecilic really, but imbeciles are simple): Can’t spank the bankers or the execs? So like a work-weary wife-batterer, come home and spank the nearest civil servant. (Who cares, right? Servant is the operative word.) Those servants who provide you with one of the best cities in the region, with the best services, the highest quality of life, the envy of the citizens of so many other cities, and at 2/3 the cost compared to what those citizens of less endowed cities pay.

    It’s reverse Robyn Hood you all advocate for. Stealing from the poor and giving to the rich. Bunk!, you say? Davis median income in 2007 was over $56K with median household income over $96K. The vast majority of City employees aren’t making $56K. So why rip them off. Oh I forgot, because you think you can, and who would defend them. They’re just servants. Not worthy of dreams of bulding a successful career and a future. You’d rather have McDonald’s quality City employees.

    You all make me want to puke.

  14. Perhaps

    “He’s no better than any other self-serving politician who realizes that a very significant portion of the voters consider themselves (right or wrong in their belief) under paid and struggling because of the rich.”

    But is there not a sufficient difference between being angry at a bank exec who is paid in private (normally at least) and the salary of someone who works from taxpayer money?

  15. Get A Clue

    “The CC majority is partially beholden to the firefighters who have the highest pay rates and largest increases over recent history. So the CC majority obviously does not want to take on the union that contributes huge sums of money and free labor to their campaigns. The majority’s position to leave the firefighters mostly alone is a calculated, rational. It does not make them evil.”

    Voting your pocketbook and self interest instead of your conscience and what is good for citizens who you are supposed to represent as a politician makes for evil in my book. Obviously we have a difference of opinion on the def’n of evil. The ASS axis of evil is just that – assinine and evil for putting their own interests above that of the citizens they have an obligation to represent.

    “You’re mad at the bankers, auto execs, and all the rest of those who really brought about the plight we’re in. Your solution, born of your sense of helplessness and frustration that comes from being generally obtuse and short-sighted–not able to think beyond sand-box antics? Here it is–revel in it’s simplicity (imbecilic really, but imbeciles are simple): Can’t spank the bankers or the execs? So like a work-weary wife-batterer, come home and spank the nearest civil servant.”

    This argument is largely a red herring. Our city employee salaries and benefits were unsustainable even before the mortgage meltdown. However, we had a budget director (Paul Navazio), who for political reasons, hid the ball. He supported the incumbents running for re-election by setting aside unmet needs, waving his magic wand, and declaring the budget balanced – even though in the unmet needs category were mandated funding requirements like city employee salaries and benefits, as well as basics like road repair. A declared balanced budget was an attempt by city staff to assist Souza, Saylor, incumbents running for office at the time, to get re-elected – councilmembers who have repeatedly agreed to the unsustainable overly generous city employee salaries and benefits.

    The city should be doing everything it can to talk city employees into taking a 5% paycut and reduced benefits. If they refuse, layoffs will be the result. Layoffs hurt the entire economy. People who are laid off cannot make mortgage payments. No mortgage payments, and your house gets foreclosed on. A glut of foreclosed houses drives the housing market down, which in turn means less tax revenue into the public coffers. Less tax revenues means less money to pay for services, which will mean another round of layoffs. It is a vicious cycle.

    “Those servants who provide you with one of the best cities in the region, with the best services, the highest quality of life, the envy of the citizens of so many other cities, and at 2/3 the cost compared to what those citizens of less endowed cities pay.”

    Have you really looked at some of the salaries of Davis city employees? Upper management salaries are ridiculously generous (many get to retire at age 55 w 90% of their salary), as are what some of the firefighters are making. Keeping up with what other cities in CA are doing is a recipe for disaster – as Vallejo could tell you. They went bankrupt. At a recent meeting, Paul Navazio did not count out the possibility that Davis could go bankrupt in the future – something he even admitted he would not have said two years ago.

  16. rick entrikin

    I applaud Lamar & Mike Harrington for stating what many of us “regular” folks already see. The firefighters are totally overpaid. And what about the issue of firefighters “chasing ambulances” in their huge, shiny firetrucks?

    If you haven’t yet seen this phenomenon, take a closer look. Whenever an ambulance (AMR?) is called to a specific site, for a specific reason, the firetrucks (with 3-4 “firefighters”) are sure to follow.

    Why on earth do we need “fighters” earning more than full professors to chase ambulances (already staffed by highly-qualified medical personnel)to mill about their huge trucks as “extras?”

  17. John D.

    I was told once, but I don’t recall what each of the four Firefighters’ duties are when they go as AMR chaperones. However, I do recall that the responsibility of one of them is to hold the clipboard. Seriously.

    The other reason for sending four Firefighters is that they don’t know how to operate independently. If they only send two in one truck and leave the other two to do something else, the two that are supposed to follow the leader are prone to getting lost. They are also extremely concerned that that if they don’t follow one another that they might not see the other truck and crash into one another.

    Also, it is a serious Davis Fire Department no-no to arrive at a anything, including a fire, without your escort. It is not appropriate for two Firefighters to arrive before two others and start getting ready. They can only get ready as a four-person group. That’s the rules.

    Hope I’ve helped de-mystify.

  18. Bob Peel

    I must try to answer the question, “why…do we need “firefighters” [or police officers] earning more than full professors…?”

    That comes up a lot in towns like Davis. Towns where everyone thinks that the highest form of life is an academic, a professor. Personally, and I believe I’m not alone here, most people would rather see a police officer or a firefighter when the @*&! hits the fan. Humankind’s most basic need is staying alive and safe. You pay to ensure that. And you pay a bit more for people to take, for you, the risks that come with keeping you alive and safe.

    A “full professor” might be able to explain to us the reasons that certain chemicals in a child’s diet or in its mother’s drugs might lead to them having an associative disorder and acting psychopathically violent as an adult. But they’re not real helpful when I need to be saved from that hypothesis come alive. Come up against some of the stuff police officers and firefighters have to deal with and then tell me they get paid too much.

    Yeah, I’m part of the public safety profession. I was a patrol officer, once upon a time. The job has a great deal of less than exciting, even boring times, sure. And when I was driving around waving at the kids in the neighborhood (and the occasional pretty girl) I thought, similar to many of you, “I’m getting paid pretty well to do this.”

    The popular expression used to describe police work is “Hours and hours of doldrums, punctuated by mere seconds of absolute terror.” When I got stabbed by a thief I tried to arrest, had my nose broken by a DUI that wanted to fight being taken in for a breath test; walked through the slosh-slosh-slosh of a dead human being’s fluids (and I don’t mean urine) that had leaked for a week into his shag carpet; looked at the angelic, innocent face of a dead child, beaten to death by his father; had a dying gunshot victim that I was giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to give his final gasps and then vomit into my mouth as he died in my arms; ran from a vicious pit-bull sicced on me by a drug dealer; had a wino defecate and urinate in the back of my patrol car; more than once had guns pulled on me; or as happened to a Davis PD Officer recently, responded to a traffic collision, and upon going to assist the driver, had the man pull out a knife and slash open his own throat and commit suicide in front of him…then I, the Davis PD Officer, and so many other unknown and taken-for-granted Officers, knew that the pay really wasn’t that much.

    You should pay more for what you really need to survive. Try to put yourself in the position of being able to make a choice between having your or a loved one’s life saved or home protected and the benefit you receive from just about any other non-public safety professional. Sure, the higher learning that comes through the efforts of your “full professor” may result in you or your children being more likely to prosper and thrive. But not if you or they are not alive or safe enough to receive the benefit in the first place. I could take the logic through a few more iterations, but I’m sure you get the point. It’s insulting when people make such stupid, uninformed, and selfish statements about cops and firefighters making too much when most wouldn’t do the job for twice the money.

    Stop comparing public safety employees’ salaries to “full professors” or any other soft and safe profession. Have you heard the expression “comparing apples to oranges”?

  19. My View

    I find your explanations interesting Bob Peel. But I don’t think it entitles you to a salary that is unsustainable by the city. And neither should you. I know of a janitor in a school who had to regularly clean up poop on the floor, because students thought it was funny to miss the toilet. As a mother, I’ve cleaned up plenty of vomit, feces and urine. As a former teacher, I broke up a knife fight. I have been the victim of road rage. In a messy divorce, my ex purposely tried to ruin my health, and succeeded. I am now permanently medically disabled. I live on $870 a month disability income, and I am greatful for that public benefit.

    I appreciate that you put your life on the line, but don’t underestimate what the rest of us do. You might be surprised. My son was the victim of assault more than once – and the police and justice system did very little to help. And, by the way, my son has never in his life broken the law. My daughter saved someone’s life recently, and was rewarded for it. She also took an anatomy class, and worked with plenty of dead bodies.

    I admire policeman, and what they do. But I don’t care for the attitude that many carry, that somehow their lives are more important, or that they are somehow worth more than the average citizen. Try living my life sometime, w a permanent medical disability. It isn’t pretty. I used to run a support group for my disease. You wouldn’t believe the quiet courage I witnessed every month from many in that group. Don’t underestimate the average citizen Mr. Peel.

  20. Bob Peel

    My View,

    You’ve totally missed my point. My response was based on a previous comment comparing the societal value of a public safety official to a professor. Thus, my description of what police officers endure for the community they serve. I have no misconception that those in my profession are any better or worse people just because of the work we do. My point is that the risks we take would seem to cause reasonable people to agree that we be more highly compensated than office workers, or others who have 9-5, safe jobs. It just makes sense. However, the gist of the arguments that preceded my comment, and the comments I’ve been seeing for some time now, are that people seem to think we should get paid the same as everybody else. (I know that’s a slight over-simplification, but it succinctly makes the point.)

    The other point that I perhaps did not make clear had to do with what you do when the money supply keeps shrinking? Commensurately, you keep shrinking public services. Ultimately, you cut all but core services. What are core services? In Davis, some folks seem to forget that the whole reason human beings banded together and created villages and government was to provide core services to the tribe so that some of the tribe could forage further from the village to bring back more things and a better future for the tribe and the family. The core service that was provided that allowed civilization to take root and grow was public safety. That was the sole purpose of banding together–safety. Not recreation. Not education. Not roads. Without safety, the rest simply was not, and still is not possible. Yet, the position that some seem to take is that we need to set aside more for the governmental luxuries. Those things that ultimately can only be enjoyed once you have ensured you are safe. I’ve heard people and politicians in Davis argue to cut police and fire service so that a pool can stay open. Amazing!!???

    So, am I or any of my brethren better than you or the professor, or anyone else, for that matter? Who knows? Doesn’t really matter. But certainly, whether we are or not is not based on our profession. But, is the value of the work we perform for society worth preserving over the professor’s contribution. Absolutely YES! Let me illustrate with a story.

    Imagine that as a city/tribe we’re down to the bottom of our public trough, huddled together as a group, the few of us left still having things/possessions and family that we wish to keep, and as you prepare to go to sleep each night, or as you head out each day to do whatever you do to provide for your family or to gather more things, you have to make a decision about how to pass out those few dollars that are left. Do you give it to a teacher/professor or do you give it to a protector/warrior? You can’t do both because you’re down to the bottom of the barrel. (Like so many are saying things are approaching now.) Remember this is not Eden, Utopia, or Nirvana. This is the real world where there are still those who will try to take property, sex, or life from others by guile or by force. If you say hire the teacher, you’re either a liar or you’re a fool and you and/or your family and things won’t be around much longer. (That’s the cruel truth that many in polite society have forgotten. Most members of the tribe are just potential prey/victims.)

    I hope I’ve made my point a little more clear. I was not judging anyone. I was merely leading all of us in a discussion about how a free and demand-driven market works when it comes to employee compensation. Simply put, that explains why some workers whom some members of society tend to despise and vilify get paid more than some others whom are loved and respected. It’s because they offer something of the greatest importance that you can’t get anywhere else. That makes it (us) valuable.

  21. tribal elder

    Essential services… might that include a potable water supply (that can also be used for firefighting), sanitary sewers to keep the tribe from wallowing in its own waste, roads to access these utilities 24/7, as may be needed? Ballet, tennis, softball, swimming pools… those are probably not essential…

  22. My View

    “But, is the value of the work we perform for society worth preserving over the professor’s contribution. Absolutely YES!”

    This is where I have to agree and disagree with you. What is an essential service? In your opinion it is public safety alone. I disagree. And this is where I have a real problem with the attitude of law enforcement and firefighters. Somehow they assume their services are more valuable than anyone else’s. Yet if your toilet is stopped up, or you can’t get running water, or if you are ill, who do you call? It isn’t a police officer or firefighter. It is a plumber or a doctor. And running water, a working toilet, and people’s health is just as much a priority as public safety.

    Where I do agree with you wholeheartedly is the idea that somehow, when dollars are scarce, we have to save all sorts of frill services. An example of that would be perhaps pool hours, as you suggested. However, I don’t think the budget issue is that simple. Even if the City Council were to cut out all the so called frills, it would be a drop in the bucket compared to the unsustainable salaries and benefits of city employees. That is where the cuts need to occur.

    Public safety takes up the lion’s share of the budget, so it is logical to start making cuts there, but without seriously jeapordizing public safety. How about three man fire teams instead of four? How about a volunteer fire department? It seems to work for other cities. There are limited dollars to go around. If we fire everyone else, just so police and fire can maintain their piggish salaries, then guess what happens?

    The “not so important” laid off people cannot make their mortgage payments and so their houses are foreclosed on. A glut of foreclosed houses drives the housing market down. As the value of houses goes down, the less tax revenue comes in. The less tax revenue to pay for services, the more layoffs there will be. And now the layoffs will have to be in the public safety sector.

    This is by way of saying it is necessary for all segments of gov’t to take a pay cut for the good of everyone. We need to keep people employed until we can weather the latest economic storm. Eventually we have to have the difficult conversation of what programs are necessary, and what programs are frills and should be cut/provided by the private sector. Our society is very interconnected, and cannot survive with just any single sector.

    Just as an aside, what drives our economy? Mostly Christmas, where 50% of a stores profit is made, and defense spending. Eery to think, but without Christmas the entire economy might fold, and there will be no money to pay public safety employees! I think you catch my drift!

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