MONTEREY, Calif. -- It's a common problem for cities...not putting enough money aside for re- capitalization. In fact cities in California are struggling mightily, let alone putting reserves aside.
Recently Central Coast News spoke with city leaders in Monterey and City Manager Fred Meuer says his city is in financial bind but stable. This series of reports was precipitated after three California cities filed for bankruptcy. Analyst make a scary prediction, that more waiting in the wings to file for protection from creditors. Yet neuter says he can't imagine Monterey ever filing for bankruptcy...but the state isn't helping. According to Meuer, Monterey has lost "millions and millions of dollars that the state has taken." Meuer refers to the California's new best financial friend...the pockets on California cities. After abolishing the redevelopment agencies, the State has been going after monies they say have been owned them by the cities. Some cities including Monterey have had to pay the state back millions of dollars from funds the state earmarked for redevelopment at the local level. According to City Councilmen Frank Sollecito Monterey never used redevelopment funds for maintenance and city salaries. A smart move that save the city from going deeper into debt after those state funds went away.
The common problem for cities is revenues are down and cost are up. Without more revenue generation from property and sales taxes, cities must rethink the way they do business. Monterey has been proactive, Meuer compliments the city council that has made hard strategic decisions including the fact that Monterey doesn't provide retiree health benefits; the city has never used the redevelopment fund for salaries or maintenance; Monterey has a shared fire department with the Army, Navy, Pacific Grove, Carmel and Sand City with only one Fire Chief.
Another unique revenue generator for Monterey is that through special legislation, Monterey is the only city in the America that contracts with the military for public works...netting nearly a million dollars in revenue.
So to answer the question "How's my city doing financially?" Meuer says, "We're in good shape, we're paying our bills, we have a substantial reserve."
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