Oceanside gives OK to budget reductions

OCEANSIDE — Oceanside budget reductions that cut $7 million in services and 32 city jobs got a final vote of approval June 10, with Mayor Jim Wood and Councilwoman Esther Sanchez voting no. The 3-2 vote stands the same as it has in previous votes to consider reducing the budget with Councilmen Jerry Kern, Jack Feller and Rocky Chavez supporting the cuts.
Those opposing budget cuts argued that there is a city surplus in the operating budget that can be tapped into. “We are well-protected,” Bill Parks, an Oceanside resident, said. “We don’t need to cut essential services to ourselves.”
Sanchez suggested that areas selected for budget cuts be re-examined. “There should be a deeper cut into development services,” Sanchez said. “There is no development happening — not in Oceanside, not in many places.”
“We should not be cutting police and fire in this critical time and we’re doing exactly that,” Sanchez said. “Now it’s time to make sure our basics are covered and this budget does not do it.”
Chavez, who approved the cuts, said cutting costs now is a balanced approach.
Supporters of the cuts said it is unwise to cut into surplus funds too quickly.
“General funds seem to be the most volatile,” Teri Ferro, financial services director, said. “We’ll probably have to come back to you again.”
“No doubt over the next two years we’ll have to dip into those reserves,” Kern said. “To go now and spend everything now — when that hits us, we’ll have nothing.”
Council members who supported the budget cuts were adamant about not tapping into reserves.
“I’m not interested in using reserves,” Feller said. “In the next two or three months we may end up with the need to use reserves.”
Further concern is that even with an approved budget there is a high probability that the state will withhold a high percent of tax funds from city budgets. San Diego County mayors met June 11 to deliver a unified message to Sacramento that cities oppose funds being withheld.

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