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Budget Workshop, June 19, 2012

The annual Budget Workshop is scheduled for Tuesday at 4:00 pm ahead of the regular Tustin City Council meeting. We are still pouring over the proposed budget and a couple of things have already jumped out at us.

Remember how we told you the rumored shortfall in revenue was anywhere from 2 to 6 million dollars? According to the summary of the proposed budget, the loss due to the demise of corporate welfare…..er, redevelopment, is just under 6 million.

The proposed budget also relies heavily on city reserves which, earlier this year, Mayor Nielsen told me they would try to reinforce. Now, it seems while they reinforce, they will also be using it to pay the bills. There is a tradeoff in that the city is attempting to keep service levels up for city residents. The city is also depending on higher projected sales tax revenues which may or may not appear. However, they do admit this is a volatile revenue that could go up or down.

It also looks like Christine Shingleton, in her new role as Assistant Executive Director, is fully funded for the coming year. As we’ve said before, they need to rid themselves of the extra help if they want to balance the budget.

The city council meeting will convene at 7 pm with just a few noteworthy items. On the Consent Calendar is the resolution for Candidate Statement Fees. This item also discusses  Jerry’s Folly, the measure that would let voters decide if councilmembers will continue to receive compensation for their service. We will have a lot to say about this particularly egregious issue in the coming months leading up to the election in November. By the way, for those of you wondering, the time for candidates to file begins July 16th. We will be checking regularly for new filers and will keep you updated a they come in.

Also on the consent calendar is Item 11, Master MOU between the City of Tustin and the County of Orange for Public Safety Realignment and Post-release Community Supervision. Of course, you can thank Governor Brown for this mess as they release prisoners with almost no oversight. In some counties, such as LA, the duties will be divided between the Sheriff and the Probation Department. Unfortunately, they are overrun with DJJ parolees from several years ago (thanks, Arnie) and will have a difficult time dealing with this new influx. Here in Orange County, we have already seen a more than 150 percent increase in the number of parolees released and prisoners returned under realignment.

Under Regular Business, the two major items also come from Hizzoner. Item 13, City Council Attendance Policy, is a direct attack on Councilmember Deborah Gavello who has required absences due to medical reasons. The proposed policy, which is sure to be adopted by the Gang of Three, has no direct effect on a councilmember. They could receive a reprimand (oooohhh, I’m scared…..). Better that than having to hear Hizzoner squawking from his end of the dais.

Item 14, Teleconferencing of City Council Meetings will probably not fare so well, although it would resolve many of the absence issues of the past as well as allow councilmembers who are traveling to continue to participate.  The issue is in complying with the requirements to teleconference.

We apologize for not getting this out earlier. Our usual day for writing the agenda posts is Sunday. But, as it was Fathers Day, my family requested I man the BBQ and sate their appetites. In a couple of weeks we will be on the road for vacation. We have scheduled campgrounds that have WiFi so we will be writing form the road. Let’s just hope the city website doesn’t crash.

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