Councilman Ara Najarian recently said, “As the city budget reaches its limit, the community many times steps in and helps with many of these programs.” In the past, former Councilwoman Laura Friedman expressed those same sentiments. Both of these council members are very proud the city has so many volunteer organizations to “pick up the slack” of previous expected city services.
We respect the daily service performed by our fire, police and general employees of the city.
However, where is the responsibility from council members when they receive thousands of dollars in campaign money from the city unions and then approve salaries and pensions in the millions of dollars that are both unfunded and unsustainable? As city Finance Director Bob Elliot pointed out in a recent News-Press article, at some point the city will have more retirees than active employees.
Besides pension spiking at retirement by safety personnel, their contracts call for an annual automatic gift from the taxpayers of a 5% cost-of-living adjustment, regardless of the economy.
According to the Social Security Administration, since 1998 Social Security recipients have averaged a 2.46% annual cost-of-living adjustment and in 2009 and 2010 received no such adjustment.
In December 2008, city services would have only needed to be slashed by $2 million rather than $10 million if our fiscally conservative council members in July 2008 had not approved more than $8 million in pay raises for city employees.
It seems we have council members who do not want to take responsibility for their past actions. Where is the shame and disgrace that should come with putting city employees' benefits before the needs of the public served by the City Council?