As a former city employee who worked at what used to be the Bureau of Electricity, then Alameda Power & Telecom and now , and President of Alameda City Employees Association (ACEA) for 10 years, I can see what a lot of, in my opinion, the city's budget problems are.
1. Salaries for all the top managers are way too high.
2. There are too many managers throughout the city:
a. We only need one assistant to the city manager.
b. We only need one city attorney and one assistant city attorney.
c. Alameda Municipal Power only needs one assistant general manager not four.
d. The laying off of employees who actually perform the work necessary to keep our city safe and clean doesn't save that much money. Their salaries haven't been the drain on the city coffers, it's management salaries.
e. Instead of constantly hiring consultants, use city staff. Too often their talents are overlooked and expensive consultants are used.
f. Freeze the salaries of the management/supervisory staff so that compaction between the groups can be restored. In other words, freeze the supervisors' salaries until they are no more than 7 percent above the employees, the supervisor's manager's pay should be no more than 7 percent above the supervisor, etc.
3. Blaming pension costs on employees is unfair. The city management offered the pensions because that's what they wanted. For example, Jim Flint, former city manager signed off on the 3 percent at 50 for public safety because he had added a "me too" clause to his contract so that's what he got. Keeping the pension as they are is the right thing to do because it's not the pension that are hurting the budget, it's the city's management of those funds.
4. The city's contribution to PERS was 18 percent of the employees' salary in 1982. However these contribution costs varied from year to year. The years that little or no contribution was required, instead of putting the money they saved into a fund for years when the percent went up, they spent it.
5. The way the budget works is if there's money left over in June, they rush to spend it on anything they can because their new fiscal year starts on July 1 and they fear that if they don't use money budgeted, they won't get as much in the new budget. A considerable amount of money could be saved if they stopped this practice.
6. Make the large contractors pay the same permit fees the citizens pay instead of either not charging them or lowering their fees.
7. Stop pushing for more homes to be built in Alameda. Instead focus on taking care of the parks, streets, sidewalks, etc. And, new homes do not bring revenue to the City. Businesses do.
8. The City Council needs to rely on the city auditor and city treasurer for help in getting the budget back on track, after all, they are the experts who the citizens of Alameda voted into office.
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