Salinas, Calif. -- Three cities in California have taken the unprecedented step of filing for bankruptcy. In this Center for Investigative Action report we continue our look at Central Coast cities and ask the question: Is My City Financially Healthy? Salinas..it's your turn.
City Manager Ray Corpuz calls his city's financial health 'marginal'.
Salinas' designation as the fresh capital of the world just may be focusing the city, it's employee groups and citizenry on taking a fresh perspective on the city's financial health. Mayor Dennis Donohue tells Central Coast news that just because one city in California files for bankruptcy that it'll not be the same for other cities and for Salinas he says the city is not in trouble.
That's good news, and here comes the big... 'but'... the city has had a structural budget deficit for decades. Which means the city annually spends more than it takes in in revenues. Ouch!
Corpuz says over the last few years Salinas has had to "cut and cut and cut. We've lost almost 130 employees over the last 3 years." Corpuz says costs keep going up and revenues are going down and that's making it tough on every California city. In fact Salinas city employees are currently taking a 13 and half percent pay cut just to help the city stay afloat. City leaders appreciate their willingness to be flexible.
Of major concern for Salinas is public safety, says Donohue "Public safety is about dollars. It's highly important and costly to maintain a high tech responsive police force, it's what the community wants and that's what we're doing."
Salinas has recently hired the Avery Group to conduct a study to determine what the city needs to focus on financially. Corpuz revealed that the study determined that the city needed to focus on revenue generation. So the city has been out promoting two new sales tax increase ballot measures to take the sales tax from 7.75% to 8.25%. They'll vote August 7th as to whether they'll land on the ballot in November. Is there public support? Corpuz says yes...a recent survey showed that over 69% of those polled would support these measures.
Time will tell if Salinas can increase it's tax base enough to provide the additional revenues the city needs for essential services. Stay tuned!
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