Ridgecrest, Cal.,- A small city similar to Yucca Valley with the same demographics has addressed their $658,000 budget deficit by re-examining their Parks and Recreation Programs. In a 4-1 vote to fill the gap in the budget, Town Council members have voted in a series of cuts to bring in a balanced budget for the next budget cycle. Vice Mayor Chip Holloway was the lone dissenting vote in large part because he wanted to see the council better address the Parks and Recreation budget at that meeting rather than waiting until the next budget cycle.
A compromise was reached because it allowed for a soft landing for Parks and Rec to get through one last summer before the department will make the serious cuts that will affect sports programs going forward. Their swim team starts practice on Feb. 1, 2013, and the softball team’s season begins at the end of February.
“Parks and Recreation Director Jim Ponek told the city, if those cuts were to go into effect, he would have no choice but to close Pinney Pool, cancel recreation programs, back out of the city’s lease for Leroy Jackson Park with the county and turn over the Kerr McGee Youth Sports Complex to someone else.The result would be sending people away who have already paid money to use some of these facilities and devastate a revenue stream for the summer when Parks and Rec brings in the most money. Also included in the cuts were $52,640 from Public Services, $6,580 from Public Works, $85,540 from General Government and $32,900 from transfers. Patin said Parks and Rec needed to change how it operates, because the city can’t afford to keep it going any more as it stands now.” >>>Source
The newspaper further reports:
“Ridgecrest Police took the biggest hit, eliminating seven positions to the tune of $391,400. This includes two officers hired as part of a veterans grant because their positions were required to be cut first in any layoffs. The other five were police officers already with the department. The hope is all seven of those positions can be saved by utilizing Measure L money to offset the loss of general fund revenue.
The big unknown is how much tax revenue will actually come into the city through Measure L and how much of a hit would street repairs have to take to offset the cost to the police.
While there were concerns over the reduction in police staff, as well as practices within city accounting that largely left the Finance Department untouched, the biggest fight came with the Parks and Recreation Department.”
REFERENCE: Measure L- Ridgecrest General Fund Tax -3/4% sales tax for 5 years was recently passed by the voters of Ridgecrest after several previous defeats over the past five years splitting their community. It passed by 55.5%
Ballot question: Measure L: Ridgecrest Public Safety/Essential City Services Measure.
To help prevent additional cuts and maintain City of Ridgecrest services, including: city streets and pothole repair; police officers and neighborhood police patrols; 9-1-1 emergency response times; and crime prevention and investigation; and other city services, shall the City of Ridgecrest enact a 3/4 cent sales tax, for five (5) years, requiring a citizen’s oversight committee, annual independent audits, with all funds for City of Ridgecrest services only, no funds for Sacramento? Source>>>link
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