Recently there have been a number of letters regarding the closure of the Verdugo Park swimming pool (“There is no bonus to bonus payouts,” July 6). I thought it might be helpful to clarify the reason for this temporary closure.
In recent years, the 50-year-old pool has suffered excessive daily water loss due to its aging infrastructure. For the safety of swimmers, it was closed in fall 2008. Since then, we have formed an Aquatic Study Group, hired an architect, conducted extensive community outreach and designs were completed for not only Verdugo, but also the deteriorating McCambridge Park swimming pool.
The City Council has already approved funding for the new 50-meter pool and water play area at Verdugo, and we are excited that construction will begin in the coming months and be complete next summer. The council will be addressing the McCambridge pool in the near future.
Like many other cities in California, Burbank is facing some challenging budget times. Our pension costs have risen dramatically and continue to account for much of our ongoing deficit. The council continues to make tough decisions regarding the important programs and services you have come to expect in our city.
The funding for the Verdugo pool has been in place for several years and is a priority. I ask for your patience as we move forward in this process and look forward to seeing our children splashing in a beautiful, but more importantly, safe new pool very soon.
Editor’s note: Golonski is a member of the Burbank City Council.
Voters: Don’t forget council’s choices
Perhaps someone out there can help me understand the priorities of the Burbank City Council.
I’ve lived in Burbank for 24 years and have found Burbank to be a wonderful place to raise my family. However, recently I find it difficult to understand our City Council.
How can you let the school crossing guards who have a responsibility for the safety of our children be told “You can keep your jobs, but you will no longer be receiving any health or welfare benefits. We can’t afford it as a city,” while at the same time we pay out $4 million in bonuses to our city employees?
How can we keep the Verdugo Park swimming facility closed for a period of years while we bail out the DeBell golf course to the tune of at least $1 million.
If we, as a city, are experiencing austere times — as is the state of California and the country — then shouldn’t our money be spent for the welfare of our children, not the comfort of our city employees or the golf habits of our upper class?
I’m not trying to be unfeeling toward city workers, but our city employees have not lost their health benefits or their pensions or been asked to take pay cuts as many of us in the private sector have over the past 10 years.
I don’t think they would suffer if their bonus money went toward paying benefits for the school crossing guards. And I don’t buy the argument that we will lose our best employees if we don’t maintain their bonuses, not in an economic environment that is experiencing unemployment rates above 9%. If DeBell Golf Club had to be sold, a private buyer could probably be found who would maintain it as a golf course.
Maybe it’s just me and I’m too dense or unsophisticated to understand the politics of the situation, but is this really the path we want to see our city go down — the way we want to be represented as a community: service the more privileged at the expense of those that need? And if not, then why does our City Council persist to make these choices?
I am a voter who has not missed an election in my entire residency. I, for one, will not forget the choices my elected officials are making.
City officials are out of touch
Burbank city officials insist that bonuses are critical to keep and attract new talent (“City looks into revamping its pay system,” July 6).
That’s just nonsense. If they really believe bonuses are necessary, officials are out of touch with what is happening in today’s job market.
Workers today in public and private sectors are fortunate to be employed when so many others are out of work and have been for months, even years. If one of the city’s “top talents” were to quit, dozens, perhaps hundreds, of qualified applicants would be lined up for the vacant position.
If these “top talents” left, where would they go? Jobs today are practically nonexistent. Don’t city officials read newspapers or keep up with current events? Don’t they realize what’s happening in California and across the nation? The federal government reported that the jobless rate was pushed higher for the third straight month in June.
City officials also want to know if Burbank is truly competing with private industry to retain and attract top people. The city doesn’t have to compete with private industry because public employees today are better off than workers in the private sector. Those workers have lost retirement benefits, and very few still have affordable health-care coverage.
Civil service employees, on the other hand, still retain their benefits and, for the most part, still have job security, which no longer exists in the private sector.
Mayor Jess Talamantes notes that city employees haven’t had a pay raise in four years. People everywhere are feeling the economic pinch, so it’s time for everyone to share the pain. Asking city workers to forgo raises while the economy is bad is not asking too much.
When the economy improves, then these employees can negotiate for increases; however, bonuses must be abolished.