The Star-News


Cuts loom over National City

Fri, Aug 13 2010 11:54 AM Posted By: Allison K. Sampite

National City discussed potential service reductions at Tuesday night's City Council meeting that would cut $270,000 of the proposed $400,000 in all service areas for 2010-2011.

The city still needs to cut $130,000, which City Manager Chris Zapata will implement into the budget to either make new reductions or not spend as much.

A last resort would be to dip into reserves, which Morrison said they do not want to touch at this time.

The contingency reserve fund, which the mayor calls "flood money," serves as a safety net and absolute last resort in case of an emergency. "This is rainy day money that we don't want to touch yet because this is going to be a long-term drizzle," he said.

Many residents who attended the meeting voiced their concerns about cuts to the city library, senior and recreation centers, neighborhood councils and community services.

Zapata said that in 2005 the city reorganized the top layers of management, saving the city more than $1 million. But the city will still lose 60 positions this year, he said.

"No one wants the things that they love dealt with," Morrison said. "Previously, with the one-cent sales tax we were able to restore services." And that's the goal ultimately, he added. "Our job is to provide services to the residents of National City as much as we can. We can't leave it status-quo with any department."

City librarian Minh Duong said the library relies heavily on volunteer and part-time employees, while board chairman Brian Clapper said cutting the days or hours too much would severely eliminate the amount of time children and students can study.

During public comment, Chuck Howrey, who served 17 years on the library board, voiced his concern about students whose parents do not have computers at home. National City resident Mona Rios said that only 30 percent of community residents own computers.

"If anything, the problem is with the shortage in staff and their limited resources," she said.

Zapata said the city can expect to see $2 to $3 million in cuts next year and to keep in mind that the city will have similar cuts at least through the next few years.

He said it is imperative for the budget to remain in balance, calling this budget period a treacherous one.

 


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