Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Dim Forecast for Lighting Budget

*notice my superior headline to the NCT headline below, hee hee

Encinitas' lighting bills are outta sight

By: ADAM KAYE - Staff Writer

ENCINITAS ---- Encinitas is running out of money for streetlights and landscaping maintenance, city officials said Tuesday, and they have only a few alternatives to keep the program solvent.

The city can trim costs by reducing services, find ways to increase revenue, or subsidize the maintenance fund from the general operating budget, said Jennifer Smith, finance director.

An analysis of the Encinitas Lighting and Landscaping District's fiscal condition is heading to the City Council tonight as part of a midyear budget review.

The district began the fiscal year July 1 with income projected at $1 million and expenses estimated at $1.1 million.

"I don't see turning off the switch as being a solution," Councilwoman Maggie Houlihan said.

I wonder if a $20 million dollar library and a $35 million dollar park have anything to do with this?

Not to be a Debbie Downer but I'm sure this is a sign that the promised sidewalks and landscaping for coastal Leucadia will be nixed.

Go back 2 years and remember former city manager Kerry Miller and current council member Jerome Stocks both constantly saying the city had plenty of money; while simontaneously trying to sneak fee and tax increases by us.


  1. The library is a done deal, and at least the council is not trying to sell 15 million dollar fire station upgrades as the highest priority for Joe tax payer.

    Now the City Council needs to fess up and realize that they need to address long standing deficiencies in the City before spending 20 million on the first phase of the regional park.

    Why not spend $5,000,000.00 on the regional park and ask Carlsbad and Solana Beach to each kick in $5 million? Their citizens will benefit from the park just as much as Encinitians. In fact, the park will be closer to Solana Beach residents than most Encinitas residents.

    Use our tax money to fix up our unsafe roadways.

  2. Jack missed the point. There is no money for LIGHTS! Sidewalks cost a lot more! There is giant hole in the budget going to gold plated staff benefits and a big debt. They should have never given such a huge increase in staff benefits a couple years ago and a real discussion about the budget should have taken place prior to taking on such a huge loan.

  3. The new lease revenue bonds passed last year were supposed to be for the library, fire stations, and the Hall project. I understand the money is all going to the library. Where does that leave the other two projects?

    If the lighting fund is only short $100,000, I say take it out of the general fund. That is only the cost of one high-priced consultant or a tenth of the cost of that high-priced tree in the Santa Fe roundabout. It's time for a little belt tightening.

    I remember well when Kerry Miller and Jerome Stocks said the city had plenty of money. If necessary let's allow the lights to go off. Then we can have a candlelight vigil in honor of the folly of our city.

    Also what about those unfunded pension benefits that Jennifer Smith said had to be on the books by 2008? She wanted to hire a consultant for this. Somehow all of this is not making sense.

  4. The city started the padding of costs to the lighting and landscape funds in 1996. The city manager moved the expenses of the city traffic lights from the general fund to the ELLD. When the city management decided to start landscaping everything, those costs were transfered from the general fund to the ELLD. The transfers weren't legal. The boohoo is bogus. The city has overspent and the only way for them to get more money is to tax, tax, tax.

  5. Beauty costs moneyFebruary 14, 2007 8:19 PM

    I rather pay another $5 bucks a year for nice looking roads, than live in a town that looks like El Cajon. C'mon cheap ass and give up $5 bucks a year.

  6. Move to El Cajon and pay them the increased taxes.

  7. "beauty costs money," the majority of the homeowners voted that they would pay another $5.00 per month for lighting and landscaping. However, by State Law, that had to be a weighted fee, with business owners paying more, and people paying more who had more lighting and landscaping near their homes. The ballot measure failed because the vote of those individuals or businesses who would be assessed at a higher rate counted more than the $5.00 increase people.

    Very difficult to understand how, when we can't keep up the medians we have now, and we can't maintain our current level of lighting, we should be putting in more, expensive roundabouts, with roundabouts being declared categorically exempt for an E.I.R. Sidewalks and guardrails should come first.

    We are not cheap. We are simply being realistic. Some people try to pass off the City's mismanagement of money onto the citizens who live and vote here.

  8. Last post should have read $5.00 per year, not per month, which is what the majority of people DID vote yes on. . . They were willing to pay $5.00 more per year, but not $5.00 more per month, in other words.

    That yearly tax increase measure failed because the businesses did not want to pay their fair share, which in many cases, was considerably more than $5.00 per year, up to an increase of $10,000 per year or more. Yes, the vote was weighted.

    The underfunding should come out of the General Fund, one of Jennifer Smith's options, listed in the NCT article.

  9. The street light fund isn't underfunded. We are taxed for the streetlights. That was the original and only legitimate lighting district.

  10. I'm going to stay in beautiful Encinitas and vote to pay for beautiful landscaping. I could care less about the lights.

  11. Hey JP-

    Can you continue the journey down HW101... I love the trip!

  12. If everyone wasn't so obsessed with being the perfect little town to show grandma when she comes to visit and didn't have a heart attack over the weeds in the medians we wouldn't have to spend so much on landscaping.

  13. Encinitas approves budget adjustments

    By: ADAM KAYE - Staff Writer

    ENCINITAS -- Encinitas expects to end its fiscal year with an $11.6 million balance in its general operating budget, nearly twice as much as projected when fiscal 2006-07 began July 1, finance department staffers told the City Council on Wednesday.

    A 94-project capital program, however, could easily lay claim to much of the windfall.

    "We have an extraordinary capital budget before us," Mayor James Bond said of a program budgeted at $101.7 million through fiscal 2006-07. "We're doing our level best to eat that elephant in a cost-effective way."

    The City Council approved midyear budget adjustments by a 5-0 vote.

    The adjustments show revenues projected to total $51 million, a $1.2 million, or 2.4 percent, increase from the original estimate of $49.8 million.

    Finance director Jennifer Smith attributed much of the increase to property tax income that has exceeded projections by $2.2 million. Property taxes comprise 55 percent of the operating budget's revenue.

    Brisk home sales coupled with the sale of large commercial properties contributed to the higher-than-expected property tax receipts, Smith said.

    Unanticipated revenue totaling more than $200,000 came from state reimbursements and other taxes.

    Some revenue sources, meanwhile, haven't produced as much as finance officials had expected. Investment earnings were $275,000 less than first budgeted and charges for services now are budgeted at $690,000 less than anticipated.

    On the spending side, Wednesday's budget adjustments included a $203,000, or 0.3 percent decrease, to $41.8 million.

    While spending for facility maintenance, art programs and "nondepartmental" costs were budgeted to increase in varying degrees, the city will spend nearly $400,000 less than it had expected to pay for library and law enforcement costs, financial documents show.

    In approving the budget adjustments, the council authorized an immediate, $588,000 transfer from its operating budget to the capital improvement program.

    Projects receiving money from that transfer include: Leucadia drainage; Leucadia 100-year flood study; downtown parking lot; Santa Fe Drive improvements; engineering design manual; Olivenhain Road project; downtown streetscape; Moonlight Beach pump station; traffic signals on Encinitas Boulevard and El Camino Real; Sun Vista Park habitat monitoring.

  14. Excerpts from SDTribune article about fire fighters.

    With Benefits- the average pay for fight fighter's is around $100,000.00 per year. Not bad for a job where employees get to excersise, shop, wash truck, shine fire hydrants and sleep while getting paid.

    In fiscal 2006, the Fire-Rescue Department lost 43 employees, 28 to retirement. Police lost 213 over the same period, including 71 who took a job with another law enforcement agency.

    While the Police Department struggles to retain officers and attract new recruits, the Fire-Rescue Department has turned away hundreds of applicants.

    Jan. 31 was the deadline for applications to fire academies that begin in September and next January. There were 2,075 applicants for 50 fire recruit positions.

    “The mayor thinks the world of the firefighters,” Sainz said. “But you can't deny that there is no recruitment and retention problem associated with the firefighters.”

    City analysts predict the budget gap could grow to more than $100 million in two years. San Diego also has a combined deficit of $2.4 billion for its pension and retiree health systems. Pay increases would add to the pension liability because the city would have to increase its contribution.

    The take-home portion of the salary survey factors in base pay minus employee costs for health care and retirement. It says a veteran San Diego firefighter with no dependents brings home between $50,000 and $60,000 a year. Forty-seven percent of the agencies surveyed offer a higher minimum, and 58 percent a higher ceiling.

    The survey included the other cities in the county, as well as cities such as Phoenix, Houston and Los Angeles. Buck Consultants of San Francisco gathered the data at a cost of $18,000.

    The survey did not account for overtime pay, regularly available to most firefighters. Most work nine 24-hour shifts per month. The department has intentionally left positions open because it says it's cheaper to pay overtime than to fully staff the department.

    Nine of the the city's top 20 earners in 2005 worked for the Fire-Rescue Department, according to payroll records. Seven of the nine earned more than $35,000 in overtime. The highest-paid, a fire captain, made $185,000, including $66,000 in overtime.

  15. Nice! work/sleep and get paid for 9/24hr days per month- get 21 days off per month. No wonder there is a flood of applications for fire fighting positions.

    I can't wait, I am definately going to apply.

    Keep your fingers crossed for me getting the job- It will be like hitting the lottery!

  16. Great headline idea, JP, but you need to transpose the first two words to create a verb: "Forecast dim ... ." Then you win.

    News headlines typically need verbs.

    Here are a couple recent favorites from this neck of the (actual) woods:

    Bree Walker debuts on new program: alcohol rehab
    Turn to KEET-TV: Love is on the air
    Local florists, unaffected by freeze, ready for pickiest of buyers (Groan)

    Brother Porky

  17. But...the word dim is too funny to be second.

  18. Does anyone remember the years before 1996 when the city staff actually recommended returning some of the lighting fees back to the property owners? Yes, it really was discussed.

  19. That was before Miller Time.


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