City Council must hold the line on employee compensation

By From page A8 | October 15, 2013

By Gregg Herrington and Michael Bisch
The Davis community has been through an exceedingly difficult period of economic adjustment these past six years. Unfortunately, we are still not out of the woods. The city of Davis remains confronted with significant structural budget deficits.

Our local governments — city of Davis, Yolo County and Davis Joint Unified School District — have made difficult, but necessary, decisions to reduce staffing levels and cut a number of services affecting our quality of life with yet more cuts likely.

In addition to the reduction in staffing levels and service cuts, parcel tax measures and fee increases have been necessary to salvage many of the great services and amenities Davis residents enjoy. More proposals, such as a local sales tax increase, are being discussed to fund existing services. Water and wastewater projects, along with long overdue catch-up on deferred street maintenance, are finally being implemented, yet they come with hefty price tags and associated debt.

The checkbook is tapped out. Therefore, Davis business leaders are adamant that our City Council continue to rein in the unsustainable growth of city employee compensation. The Davis Chamber PAC supports the council’s hard-earned gains and trusts that the council will remain resolute during Tuesday evening’s closed-session meeting with negotiators who are bargaining with the Davis City Employees Association and Firefighters Local 3494, the only groups that have not accepted the city’s reasonable position.

At the same time, we ask that the rank-and-file members of DCEA and Local 3494 tell their leaders that it is time to join with the rest of the community and accept their fair share of the burden created by the global economic meltdown.

Our community can no longer support unsustainable employee contracts that would be reliant on yet more taxes and fewer services. A failure by the council to hold the line on employee compensation Tuesday evening will create an irresponsible and increasingly untenable fiscal situation.

Any following effort to increase local sales or parcel taxes to fill the gaping budget hole thus created will justifiably be met with stakeholder and voter opposition. Sustainable budgets surely will continue to be a key issue for at least the next few election cycles.

If the city is able to realize its goal of trimming the deficit with across-the-board reductions in employee benefits, the community can then focus its energy on increasing revenues to the city.

Creating and fostering a socially, environmentally, and economically sustainable community is a challenging endeavor. The Davis Chamber PAC and the entire business community are ready, willing and able to work collaboratively with all stakeholder groups to effectively and efficiently solve today’s challenges while planning for a bright future for our unique community.

We welcome your feedback, involvement and support.

— Gregg Herrington is chairman of the Davis Chamber of Commerce board of directors and Michael Bisch is chairman of the Davis Chamber PAC committee.

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