(Pacificans thronged information tables in the Community Center on January 11, talking with city staff from various departments, but there was no presentation or Q&A for the whole crowd. Was this a missed opportunity for some honest dialog between the city and the voters, or just a crafty way to avoid open confrontation and conflict? —John Maybury)
OPINION BY TODD MCCUNE BRAY
On January 11 in the Community Center, our city officials hosted a financial meeting (see above) to sell us on the idea of increased taxes to cover the cost of their paychecks. A few numbers that most likely will not be discussed are the 80 employees who earned more than $100,000 last year. Of those 80 employees, 44 earned more than $120,000; 16 earned more than $150,000; and two earned more than $200,000. The fiscal crisis of Pacifica isn't a revenue issue but a payroll issue. Please let me explain.
Several years ago, during the real estate boom, we had a dramatic increase in revenues, thanks to the corresponding rise in property values. During that time, city staff asked for and received very large increases to salaries, wages, and benefits for all of our employees. But when the housing market crashed, staff didn't volunteer to reduce their compensation increases to match the new reality of lower revenues, so we are left with their housing-bubble wages without the housing-bubble revenues. Rather than reduce compensation, staff recommends cutting services so their paychecks won't change.
The numbers that won't be batted around are the actual W-2 Line 5 totals for the following positions: City Manager $195,872; Administration Services Director $$172,849; Planning Director $212,760; City Attorney $200,751; Director of Public Works $172,716; Deputy Fire Chief $184,185; Police Chief $164,287; and so on for another 73 employees, each earning more than $100,000 a year.
God bless our city employees, but to cut library services, senior services, or whatever paycheck-saving services our senior staff, department heads, fire, and police may target, none of that is necessary if they all agree to a scaled reduction in pay of 1 percent for every $10,000 earned.