Cerrell’s Report & Glendale’s Budget Balancing Recommendations
A Couple of months ago the city of Glendale hired a consultant (Cerrell) to survey residents and gauge public support for three new tax measures that would be included in the June 2014 ballot.
The Cerrell’s survey results can be summarized in a few words; the people of Glendale are happy with services received from government but are unsatisfied with the cost of those services. A large number of people like living in Glendale but feel that the cost of the utilities is a serious problem.
These are the words used by Cerrell to describe those feelings; “While there is an overall positive perception about the Glendale community and its high quality of services…[there are] high levels of concern about water and electricity rates, a solid majority also considers the amount they pay in city taxes and fees to be a serious problem.”
Furthermore, there would not be enough support to approve a new tax even if that means cutting services. “Currently, only the narrowest of the majorities is willing to pay additional taxes to balance the city’s budget.” What is the narrowest of majorities according to this description? Some of the questions show just a simple majority approval to this measure (51%).
The most amazing results of the survey came when respondents were given the option of cutting city employee’s pensions since 52% of respondents were more inclined toward that option. Also, 53% of the interviewed considered that GWP resources were being mismanaged.
The survey confirmed that a majority of citizens are aware of two serious problems that the city has; pensions are a budgetary item that drains a large amount of city resources and the city’s utility funds are being mismanaged. At this point I wonder how many of those interviewed considers that Glendale Utility’s funds are being used to fund high pensions and salaries of city employees.
For those people that have doubts on this regard here is a figure worth looking at. The city’s safety cost is much higher that what it is for large cities in the area. According to the Citi’s CAFR (Comprehensive Annual Financial Report) report for 2012 the percentage of total expenditures that goes to safety in some cities is the following; Burbank (103,000 people) 33%, Long Beach (430,000 people) 34%, Rancho Cucamonga (175,000 people) 36%, and Glendale (190,000) 47%*.
By far Glendale expends more in public safety than comparable cities in the area and according to the city’s own financial reports about half of those cost are related to pensions. Maybe it’s time for the city to start considering cutting large expenditures and getting in line with other cities in the area instead of planning to increase taxes so that it can pay bloated pensions and salaries.