Surprise, surprise! Tax revenues and the city budget are grossly out of balance, and Modesto faces a $10 million deficit. As I read Mayor Jim Ridenour's commentary ("City's choice: Cut now or go bankrupt later," May 16, Page B-7), I was struck by how poorly the city staffers planned. They used a very high level of sales tax revenue from 2005-06 and projected a 4 percent to 5 percent increase in this revenue stream. Who in their right mind would have thought that the sales tax revenue was going to keep growing as fast as the housing prices?
Ridenour also counts as a budget cut money that is not being spent today. He estimates $1.8 million in savings by not filling vacant sworn police officer positions, which is just cost avoidance. A real cut would be to eliminate 21 officers on the job. That's how you save money. I also noticed a lack of reduction to city staff. Three building inspectors and a couple of tree trimmers don't produce much in savings. Where are the cuts in nonemergency personnel?
Obviously, there are no painless ways to make these deep budget cuts, but doing the majority of it in the police and fire budgets is probably not the right answer, just as raising taxes or fees is not the right answer when the price of gas and food are going through the roof. Good luck, Mr. Mayor.