Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Finance Director Says City Budget Has Hit Bottom

By Steven Tavares

Interim Finance Director Perry Carter hopes San Leandro has seen the worst of the treacherous Great Recession. Carter is set to officially retire at the end of this month. During his last finance meeting Tuesday afternoon, he offered "Things may not be getting better, but the good news is: we may have hit bottom."

The city's 2010-11 budget still features a nearly $3 million shortfall, but slightly higher than anticipated increases in revenue give Carter the impression the current budget estimates are coming in line with the economy. "We did better than what I thought in May," said Carter. Deep cuts in expenditures over the past two years along with still-low revenues are allowing a "better match" for the city's accounting for this fiscal year. Doing so, Carter says, will deter the finance department from making periodic adjustments throughout the year as occurred in the last year. "It's not time to breakout the party favors," said Carter, "but it's better news."

Carter said sales tax figures from the end of the last fiscal year of $17.827,000--not far off from the estimated $17.850,000 contained in the current budget--show "consumers aren't dead." The city's sales tax increase known as Measure Z, if passed in November, could also positively help its cash flow. Carter did note, though, the city will likely confront yet another drop in property tax revenue as delinquencies continue to rise.

Nonetheless, many unknown factors still exists for the city, including the specter of a "double-dip" recession dragging the economy underwater again along with the still unresolved state budget situation in Sacramento. Councilman Jim Prola, a member of the finance committee along with Mayor Tony Santos and Councilwoman Diana Souza, thinks lawmakers will again grab money from the local level. "The budget is not settled and doesn't look good," he said. Two of the likely areas, he said, Sacramento could draw from its coffers reside in the redevelopment agency and gas tax revenue.

At the end of the meeting, Santos thanked the well-liked Carter for his service saying, "You have taken us through tough times. I personally appreciate it." Carter then deferred the compliment to his staff.


What a laugh. These bums in City Hall inflate their pay and pensions then complain that there's no more money to pay them for sitting on the butts. Just look what is happening in Bell, people aren't going to be fooled by you theives any longer.

If Measure Z passes, tax revenues will plummet. People already shop out of town for better retail and grocery choices - they'll definitely go out of town (or online) if the sales tax in San Leandro goes up. Unfortunately, the city's esteemed leaders don't know much about consumer behavior, economics, capitalism, and especially how to successfully run a town.

Btw, didn't Joyce Starosciak just say there was only a part-time finance person, and that the city needs to hire yet another one? Sounds like Perry Carter had a staff of do-nothings with calculators to determine San Leandro is broke. And a bunch of do-nothing city employees retiring at 50 with a full taxpayor-funded pension seems to be the biggest financial liability San Leandro currently has.

Frank Lynn

Yeah Frank, but try to explain that to dim witted airheads who think "$250,000 a year isn't much considering the size of San Leandro" I mean, what kind of an idiot thinks that? Unfortunately too many vote.

Yes, Perry Carter has been the interim finance director for way over a year now and he has been yearning to fully retire for awhile. You are also correct that Joyce said during the candidates forum Sept. 8 that she wants to hire a full-time director. I'll let you guys comment on that.

Joyce is certainly "not my choice".

Steven - so when Joyce stated that the finance director only works half time, does that mean that he is a full-time paid city employee who only chooses to work half-time; or that as finance director, he only spends half his time on city finances and half of his time on something else? He also seems to have a staff (to whom he gave accolades), which Joyce didn't mention in her argument for hiring a new person. She made it sound like some poor part-time low-level employee was slaving away on city budget spreadsheets.

Does Joyce just not know what's going on with city staff?

I wouldn't want a mayor who is easily convinced to hire new city workers without knowing what the current ones are (or aren't) doing.

Frank Lynn

The fact that none of the four candidates for election to the position of Mayor chose to take a position of leadership on the mundane position of finance director ought to tell every voter what these four are made of. That there was no request for future discussion on the issue of selection does not bode well for the quality of the position. Chances are that the placement will done as a temporary partronage position by the mayor after the election. Bill

I'm guessing the finance director does little more than maintain figures and praise city "leadership" for their dumb decisions--and I'd bet a spreadsheet or software program does most of the work.

And if it's been the finance director's recommendation that San Leandro cut police, cut crossing guards, and cut Farrelley pool hours; while spending $2M for partial dredging of the Marina, buying and selling Lucky's at a loss to Starosciak's developer buddies, and spending $60K in consultants to figure out how to raise taxes - then he should be fired for gross incompetence with no pension.

I think SL should get a hard-working young person just out of school with a BA in finance from a staffing agency for $50K/year instead of a do-nothing finance director who will cost the city $150K-$175K plus full benefits and full pension for life after age 50.

Frank Lynn

I'm sure Accountemps has a hell of lot more talent than the Finance Department of San Leandro.

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