May 1, 2009

The Public Forum... El Foro Público

Prop A Editorial Misses the Mark

Your April 17th editorial “PropA: Can Chula Vista Afford It?” misses the mark. It concludes that we cannot trust elected officials; therefore, we should not adequately fund our City. This is a knee- jerk reaction to a much bigger problem about the way we finance local governments in California. Chula Vista is not alone with its budget problem and your analysis is lacking in substance.

Firstly, the current council is earning high marks for its work to restore fiscal order to our city in spite of the challenges we face. They have been making tough budget cuts over the last two years and have secured budget concessions from the employee groups representing city workers. Councilwoman Bensoussan proposed, and the Council approved, the creation of a Citizens’ Oversight Committee for Prop A that will ensure adequate citizen review during the City budget process in the future. Still, more cost saving measures are needed at the City, but those invariably not be enough.

Your editorial opinion assumes that we are adequately funded and that we (or the City Council) need to sharpen our pencils and can find places to cut to balance our budget. It ignores the fact that Chula Vista is a bedroom community with inadequate funding sources which has caused us to accumulate $400 million of deferred road maintenance work and not hire an adequate number of police officers and fire fighters for our safety. Unfortunately, as with others who believe we can find cuts, neither La Prensa nor anyone else touting budget cuts ever identifies specific places in the budget that will bridge the gap.

Our budget problems stem from the bizarre way we in California fund municipal services, relying on a hodge podge of unreliable sources to fund basic services that we need. In spite of your assertion that two years is adequate, there is no way we will fix our fiscal crisis in two years because the City’s funding sources are structurally inadequate to meet our service needs even with further cuts. Without Prop A, our City is doomed to have poorly maintained streets and inadequate public safety protection and a higher crime rate. That will do nothing to our long term goal of attracting good jobs and businesses for our community’s health.

Mitch Thompson
City of Chula Vista

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