Alameda Budget – The Future Shortfalls

Looking at the Alameda Budget going forward is more like a horror movie. The light at the end of the tunnel is a freight train and the pro-growth contingency is furthering the disconnect with budget shortfalls and revenue generation. Check it out:

The Silly Hall fiscal crisis happening is as dangerous as a 10 year with a credit card at a mall.

There are around 8 major developments in progress, and all are coming due in about the next year. Collectively, they could increase the population between 8 and 12% population on the Island. Some estimates say it might increase upwards of 18%. There are many problems a jump in resident population within a short time period can cause. Least of which is traffic, but that is another discussion.

The budget discussion always appears one sided: spending short falls for services, but the supply side needs to be interjected here. Revenue first, growth next. The aforementioned population increase needs to be qualified (as it never is): renters vs. home owners. Renters don’t pay into the property tax base, require more county based services (view $$$ flowing to county not city) and compound finite street congestion. So, the supply side is not being raised here yet service use and traffic are higher.

The City wants to balance its budget on the backs of people who drive, and looking at other municipalities, it is going to result in people driving less. Like the cigarette tax, a diminishing resource is the source of these revenues which will be insufficient to meet future demands. This means the claim of adding 50% to existing revenues by way of tacking on parking fees or increased traffic citations could fall short. If this magic number for parking fees or traffic tickets fails to deliver, what is plan B?

Parking fees and fine numbers quoted ‘add’ $375,000 more to existing revenues of $675,000. So, that is not going to happen. Here is their Plan B alternatives (they just don’t know it yet): drop the speed limit to 20 across the Island? (or 20 MPH zones), or more incidious – the police start a quota based system to hit ‘goals’. Why not just give every ‘resident’ a sticker and have a toll charged to out of town visitors that cross a bridge? (that just slipped out, oops.)

Or, let’s start pitting renters vs. homeowners with differing stickers; renters pay a parking fee, homeowners are ‘comped’ 2 stickers per household. Going further with this, you could just have an Island vehicle tax.

Delving into the municipality madness is dangerous. They may have just gotten more ideas here. The point is revenue along with fiscal restraint can stem the direction we are heading. But first, looking at where the money is being spent and gaining control of this is the beginning.

Look at the basics and the root problem is revealed. Police and Fire are an astounding 75% of Alameda’s budget. Many munis allocate 40%, and even that is high by a majorities standards. Alameda wakeup and tighten your boot straps or suffer the consequences.

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