Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By David Ganezer
Observer Staff Writer 

City of Santa Monica Proposes Spending 20% More Money Next Year than This Year, Calls it "Sustainable."

"The new budget was designed around themes of Wellbeing and Sustainability." No, really.


$25 million spent on Tongva Park across the street from City Hall makes it sustainable because, umm, they use less water, or something.

The City of Santa Monica just released it's proposed 2017-18 fiscal year budget. I hope you're sitting down, because it's much bigger even than last year's $621 million budget.

"The overall proposed budget is $773.7 million in FY 2017-18 and $802.1 million in FY 2018-19. This budget reflects the operating and capital activities of 31 funds across 15 departments and approximately 2,300 permanent and temporary full-time equivalent positions," says the City in a press release. It is doubtful that any other City of 100,000 in the United States has such a large budget, but then this Santa Monica after all.

In an utterly incomprehensible section entitled "A Transition in Budgeting Approach," the press release continues: "The new budget was designed around themes of Wellbeing and Sustainability. With this new approach come new categories of work: Community, Place and Planet, Learning, Health, Economic Opportunity, and Governance. This framework links the results we seek to accomplish with the funding needed to achieve those results and establishes the approach we will take to measuring performance."

We don't have any idea what this means, either. Maybe the City can hire 100 more people with six figure salaries, to explain it to us. The press release continues:

"The reason for a transition in budget organization is to continually answer the questions: Do our goals reflect the community's needs? Are we achieving the results we are targeting? Do our efforts make sense as a cohesive whole? Do our efforts overlap? Have programs or processes outlined their usefulness?" I think that may be "outlived," guys.

Uhhh.... You pay people too much money, let them retire at 55, then pay them pensions for life. So, the answer to all these questions is, no.

"To ensure long-term fiscal sustainability, we are living within our means. This budget marks a transition as we move to reduce the City's workforce over the long term, continue to invest in vital community assets and focus our work more rigorously on the results that matter most to the wellbeing of our residents," said City Manager Rick Cole.

"And then the City will announce (or already has) that deficits are probable in coming years so more revenue will be needed," said Arts Commissioner Phil Brock. "It's incomprehensible that as a city we seemingly have no fiscal restraint. We continue to want to gorge ourselves with further outlandish expenditures instead of tightening our belts occasionally. This is the height of budgetary folly. On top of which, I do not see any effort to reduce the cost of our city staff. Absolutely Amazing!"


Reader Comments(3)

WorkerBee writes:

The City Manager turned down requests from departments for entry level staff by saying there is a hiring freeze. Yet, at the same time, he created several unnecessary positions across the City. These are high level, six figure salary positions that are filled with people who aren't the ones busting their rears each day to get things done. I had high hopes for Rick Cole, but I am incredibly disappointed by his lack of direction. He must be getting bad advice from people who want to keep getting paid for not working.

FactsAhoy writes:

This is the kangaroo council that wasted at least $10 million to destroy our bus stops and replace them with the most incompetently designed ones on the planet. Not to mention the tens of millions wasted attempting to destroy our airport. People complain and complain about these scumbags but keep voting them in.

Kathy writes:

No wonder the City needs all those developer fees...


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