San Carlos sharpens budget ax

A long list of programs and services are on the chopping block after the city manager Thursday confirmed a deficit of more than $2.7 million for the coming year.

The city has called for 15 percent cuts as a downward economy persists with no end in sight, City Manager Mark Weiss said.

Weiss recommended slashing morethan 30 various expenses ranging from a special needs program, the Police Athletic League and funding for Peninsula TV. He also recommended eliminating six full-time positions on its administrative and Parks and Recreation staffs.

Some of those positions are already vacant and frozen, officials said.

The city in May will also discuss proposing a new tax. Though nothing specific has been named, city officials have mentioned a possible utility user tax and sales tax.

“In February, I talked about the city having reached a ‘tipping point’ in its general fund finances,” Weiss said. “After several years in a row of general fund program cuts, we have reached a point where, without infusion of significant new revenue, the city of San Carlos will be facing a further reduction in services over the next several years.”

The City Council on Monday will read through the list and begin debating which programs to cut or keep, said Brian Moura, assistant city manager. City officials will also look over a separate list of roughly 30 city programs and services that Weiss has recommended keeping. The list includes more reductions in police staff, reductions in street maintenance and repair, and the elimination of the ACC Lunch and Juvenile Diversion programs.

“It’s going to be a tough night. I don’t know if any of the choices [to cut] are good ones,” Moura said. “And just because [it’s not a recommended cut] doesn’t mean it won’t be cut.”

Moura said this is the fifth year in a row the city has had to make significant reductions. The city is projecting continued cuts for the next five years, he said.

“We’ve got a problem, but we’re not alone,” Moura said, referring to budget deficits facing cities across the state.

Moura did say money saved for nongeneral fund projects, such as for several road and sewer repair projects, will not face the ax.

maldax@examiner.com

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