Bear with me if one of my wishes for the new year is unpopular or unreasonable. Then again, perhaps that is the nature of a wish — something wild and gently unattainable because of its impossible nature.
I wish National City would find a way to find the money to do away with its annual holiday tradition — shutting down local government.
With the exception of police and fire — the sacrosanct untouchables of public services —the city of National City’s offices close down for two weeks.
This go around city of National City offices were closed beginning Dec. 24 and won’t re-open until Jan. 7.
The move is touted as a cost-saving measure as employees are told not to come to work for two weeks. In return they won’t be paid.
Seems fair. After all, honest wages for an honest day’s work and all that jazz, right? Unless you happen to live paycheck to paycheck and you need every dollar you can get to pay rent, mortgage, buy food and have something left for the holiday spending. Then a mandated unpaid work furlough may not be the greatest holiday blessing a city employee could receive.
But even if employees are able to plan financially for the time off that doesn’t lessen the minor inconvenience or burden to the city’s residents and taxpayers.
Let’s, for example, say someone was making changes to their outdoor patio and they wanted to reach an inspector to clarify an order or ask a question. Chances are the law-abiding citizen would be greeted by a recorded message telling them no one would be able to help them until early January.
Or if you wanted to spend time with your child reintroducing them to the Christmas classics in book form at the local library. No dice. Closed for the furlough.
But not everything other than fire and police shut down for the holidays. The city managed to still be capable of taking money.
While library fines were not accruing from Dec. 24 to Jan. 7, anyone with a parking citation that needed paying, or a business license that needed attending to could do so via the Internet. The payment, however, would not be processed until after the first of the year.
Twice in the last 20 years National City residents were asked to approve an increase in sales tax to support public safety services. (I don’t know if the city grants a tax holiday during the holiday furlough but if they did then maybe there really are things such as Christmas miracles.)
I don’t know what it’s going to take for the city to find the money they need to keep the city operating throughout the whole year. I certainly don’t wish for another tax increase in a community that’s fighting to get and stay ahead. But surely there has to be a way of keeping people working and city operations running without shutting them down once a year.