Things aren’t looking good for the moribund city of Chula Vista.
In the middle of August, city officials announced that next year they are facing an estimated $12.5 million budget deficit—at minimum. That after years of cutting city staff, hiring freezes and work furloughs; after cutting library hours, park maintenance and street repair; after city council members (some of them anyway) gave up their car allowances, trimmed their office budgets and after members of the city’s white collar labor union agreed to give up salary increases. Even cops and fire-fighters, the sacred cows of municipal kingdoms, tightened their belts. After all of that, there’s still a gaping $12 million abyss that seems to get deeper than the cracks in Keith Richards’ face.
City Manager Jim Sandoval told The Union-Tribune: “We could close all three libraries and all seven recreation centers plus the pools and still it wouldn’t be enough” to close the $12.5 million gap.
Mayor Cheryl Cox calls the news somber. That’s like calling a severed femoral artery an owie.
The city’s hemorrhaging money to the tune of $130 million in operating costs during 2011-2012. Unfortunately, the panacea that everyone’s been praying for—bayfront development and the construction of a four-year university on the east side—is, for now, just more wishful thinking. Simply put, there’ s no significant income on the horizon.
Unless, of course, you raise taxes. And we all know how everyone feels about raising taxes. You’d probably have an easier time convincing people to wrassle “Jersey Shore’s” Snooki in a kiddie pool of chocolate pudding than voting for a tax increase.
During her first term as mayor, Cox told Chula Vistans that she and her colleagues had done their best to trim all the fat from the city’s budget and that sooner or later they would start cutting into the bone. Going into her second four years, it appears as though that time has come.
So, what do you do? The council is holding a budget workshop in early October so they can hear residents’ (read voters) ideas about what needs to be done to restore the city to good fiscal health.
If you’re one of the 230,000 people who live here, what do you tell them? What programs do you cut? Where do you get the money to keep your libraries open?