Pacifica weighs budget trims

As a deficit of $1.1 million hangs over the city’s 2007-08 budget, Interim City Manager Bill Norton said he is looking into freezing positions, reducing employee’s hours and even closing city hall for a week in order to trim the fat from an already lean budget.

The city’s staff is still looking into how and where cuts should be made, with the goal of presenting these options to the City Council at its May 14 meeting. The council will have to decide by the beginning of the fiscal year, which starts July 1, what these cuts will be.

“We’re still going through the process, but we’re going to have to make those cuts from the 2007-08 budget,” Norton said about the nearly $25 million annual allocation.

Despite the Devil’s Slide closure that affected several coastside businesses, Pacifica didn’t take too much of a hit in sales tax revenue, particularly because it isn’t home to many businesses to begin with. Rather, much of the revenue loss came from some reductions in the city’s sewer fund.

A slow response from the Federal Emergency Management Agency further complicated the fiscal outlook, as the city is still awaiting FEMA reimbursement for some $400,000 in emergency landslide repairs done after the early 2006 storms.


See a photo of the huge waves crashing into Pacifica during the 2006 storm on Examiner's “San Francisco in Pictures” blog


Some potential revenue for next year includes the sale of some city property on Sweeney Ridge, offering incentives for city employees to retire early, and freezing a handful of positions — which include one in the engineering department and other administrative positions — and possibly reducing work hours for some employees.

“I may even consider closing City Hall for a week at the end of the fiscal year, just to save on the electricity and utility costs,” Norton said. “I’m looking at everything right now.”

Councilwoman Sue Digre said she plans on meeting with city staff to ask additional questions about the budget.

While several other Peninsula cities experienced a tough blow after revenue dipped dramatically in 2003 — part of the dot-com and Sept. 11, 2001, aftermath — she said Pacifica didn’t have to suffer much because it was always “very lean” in terms of its budget.

tramroop@examiner.com

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