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 Image    JD Miller is a Man with a Plan 

                                                           He Wants His City Back!!

By J.D. Miller CPA and Financial Planner

3/12/08 

 

I want my City Back.

 


 "The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them."

--Albert Einstein


 

Remember I'm a CPA.  I'm a numbers guy.

Here's a recommendation to avoid bankruptcy.

I recommend that these thoughts be shared with the mediator and with both sides of the negotiating table.

It will allow you to reopen the two fire stations you just closed.

It will allow you to hire additional police officers as needed.

It will allow you to hire additional employees or engage outside service providers to start giving me back my City, to start creating a Community that I'm already paying for and not getting...

Just like every other citizen out there is paying for and not getting.

What's the recommendation?

Immediately adopt contracts that are similar to the contracts that Fairfield has for their employees.

...

Police

Fire

Public Works

Others

Management

Doing this should reduce our spending by more than $15 million a year that we need every year from now in to the future.

Is this fair to all concerned?

I'd say yes.

First, the citizens are getting back the money that they are paying without getting what they are paying for.

Second, is it fair to every City employee?  I'd still say yes.

And IAFF 1186 negotiated the contract for the Fairfield firefighters.  So it must be fair.

And further, if that contract, and all other contracts weren't fair to the Fairfield City employees, wouldn't there be a mass exodus of Fairfield employees to other jobs?

There isn't a mass exodus of Fairfield employees to other jobs.

So the contracts must be fair.  Perhaps every employee might like to be paid more in salaries and benefits, but not enough to bail out.

It's obvious that the approach that the City has used for at least the last 14 years is flawed.  That approach kept looking for cuts in expenses other than in the bloated public safety contracts and additional revenue sources that took more and more out of my pocket and the pockets of every other citizen in Vallejo.

Let me ask one additional question.

Is it possible that the citizens of Vallejo entered into these contracts without adequate counsel?

Perhaps a judge could be moved to set aside these contracts because the citizens weren't properly represented in the negotiations by competent counsel?

Any competent financial analyst could have shown both parties in negotiation...City Management and Union Representatives...that the salaries and benefits were unsustainable in the long term.

Any rational citizen could have seen that the salaries and benefits were unsustainable in the long term just by looking at the City's own numbers in the same way that they looked at their personal finances.

If there might have been even a shadow of a doubt that this wasn't true, certainly what has happened in the last 14 years must have removed that shadow.

Every one of us citizens knows that if we spend more than we have coming in from our paycheck or from our retirement check, our living income, we must cut back our living expenses so that we don't exceed our living income.

For the City, living expenses are what they pay to give me the City that I want to live in, that I am paying to live in.

The City's living income is the recurring taxes and fees that I am willing to pay to get the City that I want to live in.  Most of these recurring taxes are sales tax, property taxes, DMV fees, utility user fees, franchise fees on our garbage bills.

Every one of us knows that we shouldn't spend every dollar of our living income, of our paycheck or retirement check. An emergency, an unexpected expense might come up.  We set aside some of our paycheck, we set aside some of our retirement check, to provide us with a cushion for these unexpected occurrences.

Shouldn't we expect the same from our City Government?

Since it's so painfully obvious that these contracts are unsustainable...

Since it's so painfully obvious that we will never get the City or the Community that we are paying for as long as we have these unsustainable contracts...

Shouldn't these contracts be set aside and replaced with contracts that are sustainable and that give us back our City?