Commentary: The Case That Should Be Made To the Public

Pothole-Sky

Pothole-Sky

This afternoon Mayor Dan Wolk will delivering the State of the City Address to the Davis Chamber of Commerce. We may have already been given a sneak preview of the speech with his December 27 column, although perhaps Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis’ response will cause the mayor to modify his approach.

Early Monday, in response to the mayor pro tem’s column, one reader suggested that we are “having the wrong discussion.” The reader noted, “Both Robb and Dan recognize that we need additional funding, [it’s] simply a matter of tone. The question should be how to fund what the city needs and the answer most of the Vanguard sycophants argue for is austerity.”

While I believe the Vanguard and its readers have engaged in a multilevel discussion, I disagree that the conversation we are having is wrong or that we should simply be discussing how to fund what the city needs.

The Finance and Budget Commission in November and December urged the council not to approve new tax measures or utility rate increases until the city took better accounting of its “multi-year projections of underlying city revenues and expenditures” and the scope of its “funding needs for deferred maintenance and capital improvement projects that are supported, at least in part, from the General Fund.”

As some have put it, too many are viewing this as a funding problem and looking for additional revenue through either tax measures, hotels or economic development, while at its core, at least from the FBC’s perspective, “the most pressing issue for the City of Davis is being honest about our costs” and taking steps to address and control those costs.

While I tend to agree with the Finance and Budget Commission’s point in principle, the reality of timing and other considerations forces us to take a more practical approach.

We do need to get a handle on our costs. Unfortunately we have had two years from the time the city council first acted to put the sales tax measure on the June 2014 ballot to assess infrastructure costs and needs. That the FBC in November and December is still calling for a “complete list of funding needs for deferred maintenance and capital improvements projects” simply illustrates the depth of our problems.

But, on the other hand, Robb Davis wrote on Sunday, “In a December 15 report to Council, City staff demonstrated that we are under spending on critical infrastructure and programs by over $10 million on an annual (ongoing) basis.”

I take Robb Davis’ words to mean all infrastructure, not simply roads, “including bike paths, streets, sidewalks, park structures, pools, tennis courts, traffic signals, our urban forest, playgrounds, irrigation systems and city building maintenance.”

He adds for emphasis, “Let me repeat: a $10 million shortfall each and every year—on a current $50 million General Fund budget.”

To me when the number is $10 million, we need to act now. The council only has a short window to put an infrastructure revenue measure on the ballot for June and I think they need to. I would prefer a parcel tax that is more general than the parks tax being floated by the mayor and some others.

Those who believe we should not pass a tax until we have a firm handle on our financial situation have a point, but the downside is that further delay means further deferring maintenance, which of course continues to increase costs down the line.

Two years ago, former City Manager Steve Pinkerton engaged the community in some forums on the city’s financial situation at that time. He argued at that time that the city really did not have a spending problem, it had a revenue problem.

While he had a good point, the problem is that we had a spending problem that led to us having a revenue problem. Starting about 1998, there were a series of decisions that put us in this position – everything from increases in pensions during the time of superfunded pension plans, changes in retiree health care benefits without adequate accounting practices, and, then starting in 2004, massive increases to employee compensation.

When the economy was doing well our pensions were funded to the point that the city was not having to pay into the pension plans, and our roads were funded through state and federal grants, but as the economy turned south these practices put us in fiscal peril.

By 2008, just before the financial markets collapsed, it was clear that these fiscal practices were unsustainable. The Vanguard has been warning for some time of the impending problems with the city finances, and, unfortunately, while we are doing better than we were in 2009 or even 2014, we are still not on solid foundation.

It is not that we face impending fiscal doom. Rather the problems are more subtle. The result of unfunded OPEB (Other Post-Employment Benefits) liabilities is that we are now putting millions in to fund the health care costs of present and future retirees. The result of unfunded pension liabilities is that we are now spending millions to fund those pensions.

The result of deferred maintenance on roads is that we have not only diverted $4 million in general fund monies to roads and other infrastructure, but we are needing perhaps an additional $10 million a year to meet current deficits.

All of these factors do not mean fiscal doom, but they do take money that could go to things like swimming pools and sports parks, or that could go to city services.

As Robb Davis put it, over the last decade we have cut staffing, mainly through attrition, by 100 employees, the take home pay of employees has decreased but the total cost for compensating staff “has increased from just over $100,000 to over $150,000 per employee in the same decade.”

In short, the fiscal crisis we face is not bankruptcy but rather that we are paying more and getting less for it.

My solution is that we need to work on both ends of the equation. We need to continue to restructure government so that the vital city services can be most efficiently delivered to the community. We need to look at ways to contain both short and long term costs.

Finally, we need not to spend money we don’t have. The problem with the MOU situation is not that $1.3 million is going to make or break the budget, but it is that much more money we need to find in order to make ends meet.

At the same time, we clearly need to increase revenues. I am more pessimistic about the prospects for economic development than I was a year ago. I think we have backslid on economic development and the prospects for an innovation park.

I support a revenue measure that will help us meet our infrastructure needs, but I remain pessimistic, as none of the current proposals on the table seem adequate to address general and basic infrastructure needs.

My biggest criticism of the mayor and perhaps the city council as a whole here is that, instead of making the case for why we need the voters to pass a revenue measure, we have the mayor and others trumpeting a “Davis Renaissance” that I just don’t see. That is not going to get the public to vote for a revenue measure, it is going to convince them that everything is okay.

So what I would like to see from the mayor today is for him to make a case for why the voters should lay out another $10 million a year so that we can meet our current needs in the city.

—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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56 Comments

  1. Tia Will

    David

    I want to thank you for what I see as a much more balanced presentation in this article than in some of the previous on the local economy. Just a couple of small bones to pick.

    although perhaps Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis’ response will cause the mayor to modify his approach.”

    Why would anyone make the assumption that they knew what type of presentation that the Mayor planned for a very different venue prior to his haven given the speech ?  I think that to say that Robb Davis’ response “will cause the mayor” to do anything, is a bit presumptuous.

    I am smiling as I write this last point since I think that it represents basic differences in our view of the world more than an actual difference of opinion. You wrote:

    In short, the fiscal crisis we face is not bankruptcy but rather that we are paying more and getting less for it.”

    If the “fiscal crisis” is not bankruptcy, then it is not a “crisis”. If we are “paying more and getting less”, what is needed is a reasoned process for deciding how to reverse that trend. Calling it a “crisis” or “catastrophe” while it may grab a little short term attention, really does nothing to convince people of the true importance of the situation and more to make them think that they are being hyperbolically manipulated.

    1. Matt Williams

      It’s a crisis Tia.  There is no question about that.  Look at the three graphics below.  They show us that we are letting our city crumble under our feet . . . and the other cities in the region are doing a better job than Davis is.

      http://www.davisvanguard.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/PCI-over-time.jpg

      a href=

      http://www.davisvanguard.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/PCI-comparison-to-region.jpg

      [edited to fix links]

        1. hpierce

          The second sentence is true… think there is even a “law” covering it… the law also applies to every new piece of infrastructure that is built,  repaired, or and/or replaced.  Another “inconvenient truth”.

          If anyone thinks that if we completely took care of all the infrastructure repair/refurbish needed today, we’d never need to do it again… contact me… I still have a bridge connecting Manhatten to an adjacent borough that I’d be willing to sell at a bargain price…

        2. Davis Progressive

          growth or lack thereof is not the reason the roads look like this.  the reason the roads look like this is that we put money into employee compensation and then didn’t have anything for roads after that money was gone.  remember, davis might have struggled during the recession, but the high growth cities faired far worse.  so why is folsom so much better off on roads?

      1. Tia Will

        Matt

        I grew up on a dirt road. The first paved road was three blocks away. I consider the road condition a problem to deal with, not a crisis. However, if I understood what you meant by the word “crisis” rather than just a serious problem, which is what I see in our infrastructure maintenance problems, perhaps I would agree with you.

        So, please, either you, or anyone else who believes that the city is in financial “crisis” please define for me either in words or numerically where you are drawing the line on what you consider “crisis”. Then we would have an objective framework rather than just an “it is…..no its not” discussion.

    2. Matt Williams

      Tia, please note that roads aren’t the only part of the crisis.  Here is a partial list of the annual unfunded capital maintenance that exists for the non-roads part of the city.

      General Rehab/renovation of existing Parks $400,000 annually $150,000 of which is unfunded

       

      ADA upgrades of existing Parks $100,000 annually $100,000 of which is unfunded

       

      Urban Forestry Maintenance $800,000 annually $100,000 of which is unfunded

       

      Wildlife Habitat Maintenance $250,000 annually $250,000 of which is unfunded

       

      Playground Equipment Repair/Replacement (2 out of 65 each year) $100,000 annually $100,000 of which is unfunded

       

      Tennis Court Resurfacing $150,000 annually $150,000 of which is unfunded

       

      Urban Forestry Maintenance $800,000 annually $100,000 of which is unfunded

       

      City Building Maintenance & Replacement $4,000,000 annually $1,200,000 of which is unfunded

       

      The full report on all the City’s facilities being prepared by an outside consultant and vetted with City staff is due to be available this month.  It has been a 6-month endeavor thus far.  FBC is looking forward to receiving it and discussing it at our February 8th public meeting.

      1. Tia Will

        Matt

        Again, rather than a list of our short falls, I want a definition of crisis. At what debt level or unmet need level or reserve level is there crisis and what we constitute us being out of crisis for you. I am asking for an amount, not a laundry list.

        1. Mark West

          Tia:

          What number would you consider a crisis level of unfunded obligations?  $250 million? $500 million? A billion?  Remember, we only have a $50 million General Fund budget.  How far underwater does the City have to be before you agree things have become critical?

        2. Frankly

          I think maybe because she cannot see any material or tangible human suffering at this time she does not consider it a crisis.  Nothing tugging at her heart strings at this time.  She can’t feel it, so it must not be real.

          Maybe she would be okay with “looming crisis?”

          It is interesting because a lot of people wired like Tia are starting to get on the “public sector total compensation needs to be scaled back” bandwagon as their favored programs are being cut and it is pulling those heartstrings.

          But it does demonstrate that even informed and well-educated professional people like Tia are really out of their element when it comes to finance.

          I know you know this stuff Mark, but there are a lot that don’t.

          As I have tried to explain to her… any private company having the balance sheet that the city of Davis has would be considered insolvent and have filed for bankruptcy by now.

          An insolvent balance sheet is one where liabilities significantly exceed assets.

          Now a company can operate with an insolvent balance sheet for a while as long as there is expected future increase in assets that would cover the gaping shortfall.

          If we increase our revenue and hold or decrease our expenses we can fill the gaping shortfall.

          But Davis does not have anything on the table yet for either more revenue or cutting expenses (in fact, we just increased our expenses with the 3% employee raise), and the liabilities continue to grow too… and at a faster rate thanks to that employee raise.

          We can do it with tax increases, but they are unlikely to pass and will impact other future school tax increase needs.

          We can cut expense, but we are unlikely to do that… especially enough to make a dent in the gap.  Remember, we just INCREASED expenses.

          So we are left with expanding our local economy so that more revenue flows from business and business transactions.

          That is our actual gap compared to all other cities.  Our expenses per capita are actually lower than those comparable cities.  Our rate of taxation is equal to or greater than most of these comparable cities.  What we lack is commercial space and the business that would fill it.   We have a too low general fund budget because we have about 60% of the business we should have for a city our population.  And to get that additional 40%, we must allocate peripheral land.

          But Tia and her friends say no because she does not see any crisis.

        1. Frankly

          Bingo.

          And more of that commercial growth so they have a more sustainable ratio of general fund dollars per capita that is much stronger than is the same in Davis.

  2. Tia Will

    David

    if we had to cut $5 million from local schools, would that be a crisis in your view?”

    Fair question. And my answer is also intended as honest. It depends. What are our options for cutting? For example:  If we have to close a school or two that were built when there was an overestimate of need to begin with, maybe not. If we have, at the time in question overcrowding in our schools and an increasing demand….probably.

    The question is not do we have a problem. It is do we have means of addressing the problem ?  My response to that is “yes” if we are willing to pay for what we want. That is why I am a strong believer in a full accounting of need ( per Robb Davis) and being willing to pay in the present for what we want in the present rather than expecting some still fictional business park, or our won children to pay for what we want today, which yes, would require the dreaded “taxes”.

    1. Mark West

      “If the “fiscal crisis” is not bankruptcy, then it is not a “crisis”.”

      Let us review…The City has a general fund budget of roughly $50 million per year.  Our total cost for employees is roughly $53 million per year and rising.  We need to spend $5-10 million more each year in perpetuity in order to keep our roads in their current dilapidated state, we have $10’s of millions in unfunded pension obligations and retiree health costs, and likely $10′-$100’s of millions of deferred maintenance on our non-road infrastructure.  Oh yeah, we have no immediate source of new revenues. In any sort of true accounting, the City would have $100’s of millions more in obligations than resources and if it were treated as an individual or corporation, it would be bankrupt.

      The City is in a fiscal crisis. The manipulation here is by those who choose to ignore reality in an effort to convince the public that everything is fine and dandy.

       

      1. Tia Will

        those who choose to ignore reality in an effort to convince the public that everything is fine and dandy.”

        I do not hear anyone saying that “everything is fine and dandy”.  I heard the Mayor say that we have ongoing issues to address.

        I think that it is incumbent upon those who chose to use the word to define what you mean by crisis. At what exact point of debt or surplus would there be no crisis?

        If one cannot provide a number, or at least a situation in which you would consider the city not to be “in crisis” then I am going to have to disagree and state that I believe the manipulation to be on the part of those who insist not on a dispassionate discourse about the problem, which I do believe is real, but would rather drive to their favored solutions through fear tactics.

        I do not believe that Robb Davis is engaging in this over dramatization. But I do believe that the “grow as fast as we can group” certainly engages in this technique. I believe that words such as catastrophe and crisis are not geared towards rational thought about problem solving which is what I believe is needed with regard to the city’s finances.

        1. Matt Williams

          CalAg, the graphic that Staff presented to Council shows Davis with the worst PCI of the eleven regional cities included; however, there are more cities in the region than those eleven, so I can not say with any certainty that Davis ranks last in the region.

          One thing we can say for sure is that Davis’ 2015 PCI of 63 is below the statewide average of 66, and Davis’ 2014 PCI of 58 was substantially below the statewide average of 66.

    2. Matt Williams

      That is a fair answer Tia; however, it is worth noting that you have presented your answer dispassionately.  You, of course, know that I am one of the biggest fans of dispassionate discourse, but even I can see the firestorm that closing a school or two (especially if one of those schools is a Junior High School) would cause in this community. It could well eclipse the recent GATE/AIM firestorm.

      1. Tia Will

        Matt

        I do not doubt that what you say is true. However, the heat of the discussion is not necessarily a good measure of the importance of the issue. I have been told by a commenter on the Vanguard with whom I had a substantially different point of view that I had no morals. Now that is a pretty heated and overblown comment about someone with whom one disagrees on growth issues.

        1. Matt Williams

          Understood and agreed, Tia.  However, some pretty heated and overblown things were said in both the GATE/AIM situation and the Volleyball Gate situation, and I doubt you could find a single School Board member who did not take either of those situations seriously.  They were not situations that could be ended with a “get over it” comment.

          My suspicion is that closing additional schools, especially if one of those schools is a Junior High, would make Gate/AIM and Volleyball Gate look tame by comparison.

          Just my opinion.

    1. CalAg

      I agree that we’re in a fiscal crisis. We’ve got to take action.

      I know, let’s approve Nishi!!!  Oh wait … the current proposal is revenue negative and will require more than $24M in new infrastructure – at least $9M of which will come straight out of the local economy via a CFD tax on the residents and businesses.

      🙁

      1. Frankly

        There is MRIC and the one that got away… the one in west Davis next to the hospital.  I think it got chased away by the political powers that wanted Nishi to go through and knew that the no-gowthers and even the slow-growther would probably have a fit and vote them all down if there were three.  I’m not so sure of that, but I think that was the reason the west Davis innovation park pulled out.

        1. CalAg

          Those same “political powers that be” have given tacit approval to the MRIC bait-and-switch on housing (assuming they were not just out-and-out complicit) – and there is now a very real risk that we go 0-3 (or 0-4 if you count Davis Ranch) once the dust settles and all the Measure R votes are counted.

          Hopefully there will be a strong majority at the next hearing, and RAMCO will be given crystal clear direction that their project must be compliant with the no-housing restriction in the RFEI.

  3. Don Shor

    City budget crisis

    Obesity and diabetes crisis

    Student housing crisis

    Climate crisis

    Roads crisis

    Downtown violence crisis

    Syrian crisis

    Crisis of inequality and poverty

    Public health crisis

      1. Don Shor

        Interesting. I edited to strip out the MS Word coding that results when I copy and paste. I must have removed one of the crises. Do you remember which one?

        Edit: Mental health crisis

    1. Frankly

      From a local perspective:

      City budget crisis – YES
       
      Obesity and diabetes crisis – NO
       
      Student housing crisis – YES
       
      Climate crisis – NO
       
      Roads crisis – YES
       
      Downtown violence crisis – YES
       
      Syrian crisis – NO
       
      Crisis of inequality and poverty – NO
       
      Public health crisis – NO

      Let’s not forget the Islamic extremist terrorism crisis – NO (at least not yet)

      1. Don Shor

        All of those crises I listed (+ mental health crisis) were culled from posts here by the Vanguard search function.
        Don’t forget we also have a DJUSD funding crisis.

      2. Don Shor

        Roads crisis – YES

        It’s kind of hard to look at this graphic and see an actual crisis. a href=
        http://www.davisvanguard.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/PCI-by-street-type.jpg
        The numbers that are below target are both extrapolated. The other numbers meet the council’s goals. The bike paths appear to be in greatest need of upgrade. Did they really deteriorate that much in three years? So it really raises some questions about how the road crisis was identified.

        1. Matt Williams

          Don Shor said . . . “So it really raises some questions about how the road crisis was identified.”

          The answer to Don’s question is available in the December 1, 2015 Staff Report “2015 Pavement Management Report and 2015/16 Pavement Maintenance Project, CIP 825”

          The City street network consists of approximately 163 centerline miles totaling about 353 lane miles, or more than 30 million square feet of pavement. The bike path network consists of approximately 52 miles, or about 3 million square feet of asphaltic concrete (AC) or Portland cement concrete (PCC) pavement.

          The Pavement Management Program focuses on a few key factors to provide “big picture” long- term (20-year) forecasts of which streets should be addressed each year, while still requiring some human judgment for refinement on a year-to-year basis.

          The key factors in the Program are: the current condition of the pavement, the street classification (arterials, collectors, local streets), the maintenance treatment strategy (patch repairs, surface seals, overlays and reconstruction to name a few) for each street classification, and the available budget to perform maintenance. As with any “three-legged” decision-making system, one can generally choose to set any two of the factors and the third falls out of the analysis. Because transportation maintenance funding has been a growing challenge for communities across the country for many years, the budget is typically one of the two factors that is “set” by policy decision. However, if the budget is too low, it may not be possible to maintain the entire pavement system to an average pavement condition, but only a portion of the system. In this case, the program tracks the pavement not meeting the condition standard as “backlog.” The backlog is described as a number which represents the estimated cost to “catch up” to the defined pavement condition goal.

          When pavement repairs are made, it is necessary to also repair and bring into compliance adjacent curb, gutter and sidewalks; American with Disabilities Act (ADA) ramps; and street striping compatible with vehicles and bicycles. When the City Council adopted the 2013 Pavement Management Report and approved increased funding for pavement maintenance, they consciously addressed the funding of non-pavement scope of work that is essential to perform in concert with pavement repairs. At the time, it was estimated that the typical project would need to invest approximately 15% of the pavement costs into these non-pavement assets. It was also estimated that on average, 15% of the total construction contract would be focused on bike path resurfacing.

          City-Wide Street and Path Surveys
          Historically, the City surveyed approximately one-fifth of the City’s streets each year to evaluate the pavement condition and update our program. However, in 2012, since a street survey had not been performed in several years, the City surveyed the entire network of streets and bike paths. In 2015, the City again surveyed the arterials and collectors. City Staff will continue to survey the street and path networks every three years for arterials and collectors (next surveys in 2018 and 2021) and every six years for local streets and bike paths (next surveys in 2018 and 2024).

          2013: A Year of Decisions
          In 2013, City Staff brought the subject of Pavement Management to City Council over the course of multiple meetings to come to several decisions. Following are bullet points on the decisions:

          — Budgeting the Program: Since 2008 virtually all of the past Federal funding mechanisms have disappeared with the exception of competitive SACOG grants. Cities must apply for the SACOG grants annually and compete with other cities for a limited amount of money. The submitted projects must show a “complete street” component or other type of enhancement. Pavement maintenance is not typically competitive for grant programs. City Council considered several budgeting options and landed on the one listed in Fiscal Impacts (allocate roughly $4 Million of local funds annually to support pavement maintenance for the City’s streets and multi-use paths).
          — Priority Local Streets: Staff presented a list of local streets that were near parks, schools, commercial districts, and other points of interest. These streets were approved by Council and re-classified in StreetSaver as Collectors.
          — Target PCIs: Staff presented, and Council approved, target PCIs for arterials, collectors and local streets as shown in Pavement Condition Index comparison Table above. Council also directed that the target, average PCI for bike paths should be equal to or greater than the highest PCI in the street classifications (PCI of 68).
          — Pavement Management Scenarios: Many scenarios were presented to Council over the year. The basic conclusions drawn from these scenarios is that it will take more funding than is currently being budgeted to improve the street and path conditions in the next twenty years and that the more funding allocated as early as possible improves the situation versus waiting (as streets approach low PCI levels the likelihood of complete re- construction increases – a considerably more expensive project).

      3. Tia Will

        Frankly

        So you made a list of your personal beliefs of what is and is not crisis. You did this without any definitions of how you arrived at your conclusions. If you have data to back up your list, please post it. Otherwise it is nothing more than your personal opinions and it is significantly different from the list I would compile.

        So why not define your terms and give us something to discuss.

        1. Frankly

          Let’s just say any level of negative deviation from the norm that is significant in numbers and/or is growing at an alarming rate, but is currently lacking any reasonable planned or potential remedy.

    2. Misanthrop

      To David Greenwald, the Roger Ailes of local politics, everything is a crisis and has been for ten years. Next thing his ad hominem attacks on the Mayor will be described as fair and balanced.

  4. CalAg

    The Finance and Budget Commission in November and December urged the council not to approve new tax measures or utility rate increases until the city took better accounting of its “multi-year projections of underlying city revenues and expenditures” and the scope of its “funding needs for deferred maintenance and capital improvement projects that are supported, at least in part, from the General Fund.”

    Does this mean the FBC position is “no tax measure on the June ballot,” or is there some scenario where the complex accounting exercise outlined above gets finished before the City’s filing deadline?

    1. Matt Williams

      Good question CalAg.  There is one scenario where the accounting exercise outlined does get completed before the City’s filing deadline.  The city is currently getting to the end of a six-month engagement working with an outside consultant to come up with the maintenance status of all of the City’s facilities.  That report, in conjunction with the Pavement Management report presented by staff and Nichols Consulting Engineers, will create the master list of the “proposed and/or deferred capital infrastructure projects” referenced in item 1. of the FBC motion.

      Creating the subset of that master list that will be funded by any proposed tax (as described in the first bullet of item 1. of the FBC motion) will need to be done quickly by staff if they are going to get finished before the City’s filing deadline.

      Once the subset is determined, then coming up with success metrics and a budget for each of the projects in the subset (as described in the second bullet of item 1. of the FBC motion) will need to be done quickly by staff if they are going to get finished before the City’s filing deadline.

      The remaining portions of the FBC motion (the third bullet of item 1., as well as items 2. and 3. are part of the next annual Budget process, and as such do not have any impact on whether staff is going to get finished before the City’s filing deadline.

        1. Matt Williams

          The minutes of the December FBC meeting have not as yet been posted, so I have no link.  Here is the language that will appear in the January FBC Agenda packet link on Friday.

           
          Motion (seconded and approved by a 5-0 vote)
           
          That the F& B C is recommending that the Davis City Council not approve any new tax measures or utility rate increases for placement on a ballot measure until such time that:
           
          1.     The staff provides a detailed scope of proposed and/or deferred capital infrastructure projects, as well as proposed new services.
           
          ·       Said scope document shall include specific measurable success metrics for the proposed new services and projects, along with an inventory of the specific costs that will be incurred to provide said proposed services or complete said projects.
           
          ·       Each deferred capital infrastructure project shall include its expected success metrics, as well as an anticipated budget.
           
          ·       The scope document will be updated each year as part of the Budget adoption process.
           
          2.     The staff provides detailed report/s in conjunction with or as a part of the annual Budget adoption process documents submitted to City Council that reports the specific work done (accomplishments) the prior Fiscal Year on staff proposed services and project/s associated with item #1.
           
          3.     The staff provides detailed report/s in conjunction with or as a part of the annual Budget adoption process documents submitted to City Council that defines where the revenues collected from any new tax/increased tax measure(s) spent on services and/or projects other than the services and/or projects associated with item #1.
           
          4.     Background information
           
           
           
          Under a proposed new General tax a fifty percent voter approval is required to implement the new tax. Additionally, these taxes are deposited in the General Fund and the citizens cannot mandate what services or project/s these new taxes are spent on. However, there is no law that prevents the citizens require staff and city council to provide the citizens with a detailed scope of proposed services or project/s, each year, including specific measurable metrics of those proposed services or project/s along with the detailed specific costs to provide said proposed services or project/s. And, there is no law preventing the staff from providing a report on specifically, including measurable metrics of services or project/s that were provided each year, where those additional new tax dollars were spent.
           
           
           
          Under a proposed new Special tax a two thirds voter approval is required from the Davis citizens of at to implement the new tax. Additionally, these taxes are deposited in a specific fund where the citizens can mandate what services or project/s these new taxes are spent on. However, there is no law that prevents the citizens from requiring staff and city council to provide the citizens with a detailed scope of proposed services or project/s, each year, including specific measurable metrics of those proposed services or project/s along with the detailed specific costs to provide said proposed services or project/s. And, there is no law preventing the staff from providing a report on specifically, including measurable metrics of services or project/s that were provided each year, where those additional new tax dollars were spent
           
           
           
          Under a proposed new utility rate increase a fifty percent approval is required from the Davis citizens to implement the new tax. Additionally, these taxes are deposited in the General Fund and the citizens cannot mandate what services or project/s these new taxes are spent on. However, there is no law that prevents the citizens require staff and city council to provide the citizens with a detailed scope of proposed services or project/s, each year, including specific measurable metrics of those proposed services or project/s along with the detailed specific costs to provide said proposed services or project/s. And, there is no law preventing the staff from providing a report on specifically, including measurable metrics of services or project/s that were provided each year, where those additional new tax dollars were spent
           
           
           
          The intent of this motion is to ensure that the Finance and Budget Commission uphold our new City Council approved mission statement where,
           
           
           
          “Providing transparency of City Finances to the citizens of Davis.
           
          –      Reviewing the spending outlined in the city budget in order to advise the Public that City Council/City Management is accountable for spending taxpayer dollars effectively and in keeping with important city priorities.
           
          –      Searching for and advising actions that could maximize city revenues and reduce governmental costs and help ensure municipal fiscal stability.
           
          –      Providing recommendations/special studies on financial and economic issues to the City Council.”
           
           
           
          And, that the citizens of Davis are provided with a transparent and accurate accounting how specifically any new taxes are spent. The assumption being that the city staff and city council have planned, through their budget process, how to manage their ongoing projected costs of providing existing services or project/s along with any unfunded pension or OPEB liabilities. Or, if any these taxes are proposed to pay any compensation increases, unfunded pension or OPEB liabilities that the proposed scope for use of these taxes clearly presents how much and for whom these taxes will be used for paying any compensation increases, unfunded pension or OPEB liabilities each year.
           
           
           
          The point of this motion is that if the city staff or city council intends to use these new taxes to pay for compensation increases, unfunded pension, OPEB or Infrastructure liabilities then they should transparently inform the citizens of Davis that this is what they are proposing.
           

           

  5. CalAg

    Thanks. Given this action by the F&BC plus the apparent lack of a coherent plan from the CC/CM, I’m inclined to think the Council should wait until the Nov ballot for a revenue Measure. That means the City leadership has adequate time to do a competent job putting it before the public, and the newly seated Council can take ownership of its success or failure. A Q1 fire drill to rush something onto the June ballot seems destined to failure.

    1. CalAg

      TW: You are constantly getting bogged down in semantics. It really doesn’t matter what you call it. The fact is that the roads and the bike paths are falling apart (e.g. some of the bike paths are now dangerous to use). It’s obvious to anyone that has paid attention over time. What’s not obvious to the casual observer is that the longer we wait, the more expensive it will be to fix the problem.

      Regarding the contradiction, in my opinion the risk of a failed ballot measure far outweighs the cost of a six month delay (which I can imagine might be well into six figures given the rate of decay).

      1. hpierce

        Reality check… unless a repair project is “shovel ready”, with PS&E ready to bid [and even then], the timing of a ballot measure is somewhat irrelevant…

        if a ballot measure for revenue is approved`in June, the revenue still needs to go into effect, and accrue, and get budgeted…  if a ballot measure is approved in June, it will probably only show up as an expenditure in FY 16-17, and only then if the City issues tax anticipation bonds [at a price]… same as if it were approved in November… parcel tax rolls are set as of ~ Aug 1.
        other types of taxes usually wouldn’t go into effect until Jan 1 2017, no matter when they were approved.  Again, there is the cash-flow issue… and the budgeting issue.

        I see no difference between a revenue measure voted on in June or November, on a practical basis…

        1. CalAg

          So you’re saying that it doesn’t matter if a tax measure is approved in June or November 2016, the first opportunity to use these funds would be the FY 17/18 rehab project (which would typically occur late summer/fall)?

        2. hpierce

          Yeah… the funds already programmed for FY 15-16 are certainly available sooner, but don’t see how any “new” funds would be in play until 16-17 at the earliest. More likely 17-18, unless revenue anticipation bonds were fast-tracked… am thinking 17-18 is most likely earliest.

  6. Tia Will

    CalAg

    It really doesn’t matter what you call it. The fact is that the roads and the bike paths are falling apart”

    I disagree that it doesn’t matter what we call it. I think words and the framing of issues makes a great deal of difference in forming opinions.

    1. hpierce

      ‘Information’ (facts, with no spin) matters more than ‘words’ or the ‘framing of issues’… or should… but probably doesn’t… ‘words and framing of issues’ sounds more like “rhetoric” to me…  I discount it [rhetoric]… big time…

      1. Tia Will

        Frankly and Matt

        I would posit that if you use such a broad definition for the word “crisis” then every item on Don’s list qualifies as do many, many other problems and issues of our day.  I cannot go along with this definition of crisis as I find that it trivializes the word and would serve to paralyze us in despair if we felt that every significant problem for which we had no well planned out solution was a “crisis”.

        You’ll note that I haven’t presented my working definition yet, since I have not yet decided, but I would set the bar considerably higher than this.

      2. Davis Progressive

        “If you want to debate the meaning of the word “fiddle” while Rome burns, that’s certainly your prerogative.”

        i think calag is right.  tia has distracted the conversation here by debating what “crisis” is and whether we have one.  the vanguard put forward a policy proposal calling for holding the line on spending while seeking revenue, that needed to be the discussion yesterday, not whether we have a crisis.

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