Thursday, March 1, 2012
Former Seaside Rec Director Dave Pacheco and current City Councilman Dennis Alexander can be spotted swimming laps at the Pattullo Swim Center on Wheeler Street, where local youth descend regularly for lessons and a whole subpopulation of seniors complete daily aquatic exercises in one of two pools.
But with a slate of potential city cuts up for discussion at a March 1 budget study session, Pattullo could soon be shut down or outsourced to private management.
Other options to cut $880,000 by the end of June: Medi-Cal modifications ($100,000 estimated annual savings), police pay cuts ($535,000), and reductions in the minimum staffing levels of the fire department ($350,000).
There is no shortage of near-and-dear items on the list.
“Basically any idea is OK, whether it’s palatable or not,” Deputy City Manager Daphne Hodgson says. “It’s every possible thing we can do.”
The rush cuts are precipitated by the loss of state redevelopment funds. But some of the options, like Pattullo’s closure, are creating more of a splash than others. The city’s preliminary draft of the budget reduction worksheet estimates Pattullo’s shuttering or outsourcing would save $200,000 annually.
“People have been sounding off about recreation services,” Mayor Felix Bachofner says. “Particularly the pool.”
“The pool’s vital to the well-being of so many,” says communications consultant Carlos Ramos, who uses Pattullo to rehab in the wake of bypass surgery. “It would be a great loss. The city owes this to the citizens and residents because of our support for tax measures that go to vital services like police and fire.”
The City Council won’t make any mid-year budget decisions at the study session, but it may do so at its subsequent regular meeting. Budget decisions for 2012-2013 will happen at future meetings.
“We’ve looked at some of [these cuts] before,” Hodgson says, “and probably will look at them again. This is just the very beginning.”
Bachofner isn’t eager to confront the decisions, but is nevertheless optimistic.
“These are the tough choices the electorate hired us to make,” he says. “While it’s certainly not going to be fun, it provides an opportunity to put us in a better place for the future. At least that’s what I’m hoping for.”
Seaside’s budget study session happens Thursday, March 1, 5-6:30pm; City Council meets at 7pm. Seaside City Hall, 440 Harcourt Ave., Seaside. 899-6700.