Difficult budget cuts loom in the future of whichever political newcomer succeeds in his bid to take outgoing Modesto City Councilman Bob Dunbar's seat Tuesday.
Modesto faced $8.8 million in cuts to its $135 million general fund when four men signed up to run for Dunbar's seat in August. Since then, the city learned its sales tax revenue likely would come up $1.2 million short, putting further pressure on public services.
The candidates discussed how they would address the cuts.
Dave Lopez: "I'd like to concentrate on creating more rather than cutting. Modesto is going to grow. We need to start growing up instead of growing out, and I think that will take care of both problems.
"The immediate fix is road repair and infrastructure. When I get elected, I'm going to propose a half-cent sales tax with a six-year sunset, so the voters can see what that half-cent can do."
Robert Farrace: "You have to go to those departments and ask what they think can be done, and obviously there has to be some prioritizing of the needs they have so the council has an idea of why they can't cut in certain areas.
"Look at nonmandated, noncritical positions, where you can hold the line on hiring. Don't hire back when you've got a vacancy.
"Supporting a means of generating a tax for roads and trying to achieve self-help status (a term that refers to local governments that designate sales tax revenue for road improvements, which entitles them to increased state funding). ... I think people will support it if they understand if you have self-help status, we'll get more money than we're taxed."
Robert Stanford: "I'd really take a look at a lot of programs to see what can be shored up. Nobody talks about excess spending. I see tons of stuff off on the consent calendar (a portion of the council agendas that lists items that do not require discussion at meetings), unless (Councilman Will) O'Bryant pulls it off, that stuff goes out week after after week.
"I'd probably be having a lot longer council sessions. I'd be working pretty close with him to pull stuff out of consent. Nobody knows where this money's going. The taxpayers want to know where the money's going."
Brent Maynor: "They have an 8 percent reserve. There's talk about maybe dropping it down. I believe they have a ballot up for a public safety tax. That would be a good thing to get that passed. If they're cutting emergency services, it would be good to look at it right away."
Tom Maher is challenging incumbent Brad Hawn in the race for the council's Chair 6. Their ideas on budget cuts include:
Hawn: "We're going to balance the budget. We haven't seen what the potential shopping list of things we need to cut, so the pain isn't really there yet. It's just a number right now.
"The road tax, that's a community effort. I'm not sure when that's going to be. I would have to say that's going to be sooner rather than later. The other issue (that could require a sales tax increase) is going to be public safety. We need time to educate people about why they're going to be on the ballot."
Maher: "I'd like to run it more like a business. You've got your fixed costs and you've got your variable costs. You've got certain costs you have to spend, and you have costs you don't have to spend. I'd like to work on the consent items. There's a lot of things on the consent calendar that just go through.
"I'd also like to see where we don't duplicate roles, where we get consultants to do jobs where we have staff."
Bee staff writer Adam Ashton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2366.