Budget Discussions Take Bizarre Twist
DESERT HOT SPRINGS, CA – The Desert Hot Springs City Council will consider a proposed budget for the next fiscal year when it meets today.
According to numbers supplied by City Manager Rick Daniels, the city will have $16,252,208 in revenue and $18,362,517 in expenses. Daniels proposes to use $2.3 million in city reserves to cover the deficit.
That proposal did not sit well with a citizen finance committee that spent several hours over the course of five months in detailed examination of the budget. It recommended the city spend no more than a third of its available reserves this year, about $1 million less than Daniels wants to spend.
The committee also questioned Daniels projected revenue. In a report to the city council, the committee said it “has no faith in the projected $920,568 projection in revenues” included in Daniel’s revenue projections.
The committee also disagreed with Daniels use of one-time revenues, saying that put the city in a precarious financial position next year.
The same concerns over the financial picture a year from now that were expressed by the citizen finance committee were also expressed by Council Members Russell Betts and Adam Sanchez during three days of council budget meetings.
“A year from now we are looking at serious situation and much more drastic cuts,” said Betts. “It is far better to start making the necessary cuts early. Its obvious cuts are necessary now.”
One of the cuts Betts proposed was a 15 percent reduction in salaries of top city managers. That proposal would impact eight city employees. The finance committee took that suggestion further and called for ten percent salary reductions for all city employees.
At that, the budget discussions took a bizarre twist when Daniels in a written response included in the budget packet called city hall salary cuts “discriminatory against women, Latino, African-American and religious individuals.”
Daniels has at least one vote in favor of his refusal to consider reductions in salaries and pensions. During last weeks budget discussions Councilwoman Jan Pye said she is not willing to look at salary reductions.
The council is expected to approve next year’s budget at tonight’s council meeting. During last week’s budget discussions Sanchez said the city needs to take more time. “We can call a special meeting,” he said. “We have to take the time to get this one right and we are not there yet.”
The city council meeting begins at 5 p.m. today in the Carl May building on West Drive near Pierson Blvd.
For over 40 years Dean has been published in a variety of small newspapers and magazines. As publisher he founded an alternative city weekly newspaper in 2008 and published over 200 uninterrupted issues over 4 years to over 20,000 readers via 800 locations (and online) before selling the business. Now online with over 3 million readers worldwide.
Dean is a Master Carpenter and the author of the biography of Hilda M Gray, desert homesteader. He served as Planning Commissioner for the city of Desert Hot Springs from January 2014 to January 2015 when he resigned.
Dean M Gray is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors and lives in Palm Desert, California.