A financial revolt is coming
This is not fiction. This is what this very fine city is facing. I do not ask the residents/voters to believe me. Vice Mayor Young posted an article about this issue on “Benicia Happenings.” Sorry, posting is not the answer. Action is.
It is all about the underfunded CalPERS retiree funds. Vice Mayor Young has been on the council for one year. He had plenty of time to report on this issue and put it on the agenda, but following in the footsteps of his council partner Mayor Patterson, he chose to ignore it. Not good, Vice Mayor Young. It is not going away. It will be here for many years to come.
Does Vice Mayor Young remember the memo sent by outgoing interim City Manager Steve Salomon last year to the entire council? It clearly stated the rising pension costs of CalPers. It also stated that Bartle-Wells would be giving their analysis of Benicia’s pension accrued liability. They did, and it should have been a wakeup call to the mayor and vice mayor. Salomon stated that within 10 years, the cost to the city would more than double to over $12 million per year. It will be more. The 2018-19 budget year cost will be over $800,000 and rising every year after that. Just where does this city get the money to cover that? Do Young and Patterson know that answer? No, they do not.
Sorry, Vice Mayor Young. Reposting an article does not solve the problem. I am using Young and Patterson as the responsible parties because they have the top two positions in the city. It is their responsibility to make this issue a priority. All other issues can be put on the backburner like the ISO, etc. This issue must be addressed and now. I do believe any action will not result in any good news for the residents/voters of this fine city. It is far beyond an immediate fix. Yes, the city could very well get through the 2017-18 and the 2018-19 budget years, but reserves and Measure C will cover that. No more Measure C for infrastructure, and reserves will just go away. However, the next two budget years are going to be a big problem. Expect cuts. By cuts, I mean a reduction in city staff, benefits and reduced services. Start thinking the library, parks and rec, pool hours etc.
The next big cuts will be re-organization. What is left to re-organize? They will take a long, hard look at outsourcing/contracting certain services. Does any resident or voter want our police, fire, parks and rec, library, city attorney and possibly our sewer and water to be a victim of very bad financial management? We no longer can blame others. * Mayor Patterson will end up being in office for 17 years by the 2020 election. It is very apparent financial crisis is not her No. 1 priority, but Valero is. That’s not good. Poor Vice Mayor Young has fallen victim to this type of thinking. It might just be time to start being a little more independent. I am sure he will say he is, but we need evidence of that.
This letter is in no way an attack on the city manager or city staff nor is it a scare tactic. They simply follow the direction from the mayor-led City Council. This is a very critical review of what this very fine city is facing. The mayor-led council must act now. I do not consider my self the bearer of bad news. I consider myself a bearer of just what we are facing. I will watch the actions of the mayor and vice mayor to see if they really do understand this financial crisis. It appears they do not. I will admit the vice mayor did agree with me on the financial issue, but this has not led to action. Stay tuned, I am not done with this issue.
Bob “The Owl” Livesay,