COMMUNITY COMMENTARY: Spending money while cutting services?

Oceanside City Council candidates Jerry Kern and Gary Felien want to spend piles of your money on “projects” to prove what a money-saver the new city charter is. After all, how can you prove money savings from the charter unless you spend a lot of money? That makes sense, doesn’t it? Or at least it does to Kern and Felien. In the meantime, Jerry and Gary continue to say no money exists to pay for basic services.
Current council member Jerry Kern wants to spend $30 million per year on public works construction projects (Sept. 17, 2010 San Diego News) while saying the city is broke, voting to cut services, laying off employees, approving new fees for residents and crying to high heavens that the new fire department contract will break the city budget because it restored full staffing at Fire Station 8 so Peacock Hills senior citizens had more than a souped up pickup truck to keep them safe.
Jerry’s friend and co-candidate/spender Gary Felien submitted a North County Times forum back in June saying the city was “engulfed in a financial crisis due to a plunge in revenues caused by the recession. … Further deep cuts will be required in following years.” Then Felien went on and on about how the new city charter would save Oceanside taxpayers money because “the city is proposing a five-year, $186 million capital improvements budget.” Think about Felien’s words: “financial crisis,” “plunge in revenues” and “deep cuts.” Is Gary Felien saying Oceanside needs to cut more staff and services even while funding continues for $186 million in new construction projects? Is he now copying Jerry Kern’s slash services and spend on developer projects policies?
Felien is even calling for an Obama type Oceanside jobs stimulus program for San Diego construction companies on his campaign website. Just think, anyone who votes for Gary Felien will be voting to approve handing Gary $186 million for construction project stimulus.
Perhaps as with Obama’s stimulus program, Jerry Kern and Gary Felien could put up signs saying the millions in construction projects are compliments of Gary Felien and Jerry Kern and your tax dollars.
Is anyone else as bothered as I am that the city of Oceanside plans to spend $186 million on public works projects at the same time the city is saying it might have to further reduce basic city services? Does it make sense to you that a couple of candidates who call themselves fiscal conservatives support spending big money on “projects” while at the same time cutting city services? Isn’t this similar to adding a room to your house because you put money into a bank account with the title “room construction” while you starve to death because your regular bank account is overdrawn and you say you cannot afford food?
Remember these misguided budget priorities when you vote and “be careful what you ask for.”

Lizbeth Altman is an Oceanside resident.

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  1. Larry Hutch says:

    The current capital improvements budget has millions in General Fund money transferred to it. Last count was over $4 million which is enough to cover the current General Fund budget deficit if it were transferred back. Why not cut some capital improvement projects instead of closing libraries, rec centers and pools?

    The 2007-2008 capital improvements budget pillaged over $13 million from the General Fund. Funny how Oceanside’s General Fund had no money for services in 2008 and employee layoffs began.

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