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New budget OK'd Robert Moreno | Sat, Jun 15 2013 12:00 PM

Chula Vista ­Council members on Tuesday voted to approve the city manager’s budget, despite opposition from city employees and their unions.

City Manager Jim Sandoval’s budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year, which also details a five-year financial forecast, has not been a hit with city employees and union members seeking their first salary hike in five years.

City employees and their respective unions also want the city to provide additional staffing to help ease the burden of an overwhelming workload.

Rusty James, a parks supervisor and member of the Chula Vista Employee Association, asked City Council to consider the status of its current employees before approving the budget.

“The proposals that are on the table for our compensation and our contract I don’t feel are greedy or unreasonable.

The amount of money that we are talking about I feel is totally doable within the budget that we have,” he said.

Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox told James the approval of the budget has no barring on labor negotiations.

The mayor said normally the budget and labor negotiations “don’t mesh by calendar.”

Sandoval’s adopted budget includes a general fund of $127.7 million, with $2.3 million taken out of the contingency fund to balance the budget, and an all funds budget combined with the general fund of $261 million.

The all funds expense is $268.8 million.

The newly approved budget shows that the city of Chula Vista is still facing a deficit while it tries to get back to financial resiliency.

The budget lists funding for several development projects, the implementation of an advanced life support program and additional police staffing.

Over the years, the city manager cut hundreds of employees, combined several departments and made current employees pay their share of pension costs to get the city of Chula Vista back on its financial feet, Sandoval said.

Cox said while she supports the budget, she would like to visit the issue of employees’ compensation once more funding becomes available.

“I’m prepared to endorse this budget and to support it but I’m also on record with the city manager to say as this economy continues to crawl back, let’s make sure that we have a plan in place that says when the funds are available we look at our employees because our employees provide the services that this community needs,” Cox said.

Dave Kaplan, president of the Western Council of Engineers, said his union is not happy with the way the proposal has been drafted.

“We are here today approving a budget based upon a flawed salary survey and therefore WCE must protest,” Kaplan said.

“WCE is not happy with how the budget has progressed so far.”

Larry Alcoff with the Service Employees International Union, the lead negotiator for CVEA and the chief negotiator for the middle managers and professional employees, said negotiations are ongoing for a one-year agreement between the city of Chula Vista and the two unions he represents.

The city’s general fund budget goes into effect at the start of the new fiscal year on July 1.

Labor deals with the CVEA, middle managers and WCE expire June 30.

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