Editor: The City of Petaluma has severe financial problems due to improper management and overcompensation of public employees. The audited financial report discloses that Petaluma has amassed a pension liability of over $23 million. Two years ago, over half of the city employees were receiving an annual compensation package in excess of $100,000 each.
Last year, the City Council gave away in contract negotiations an additional $4 million per year in unbudgeted compensation increases. Salaries are now programmed to increase as much as 10 percent per year. Just like your salary? When asked how the city was going to pay these increases, the city?s leadership responded that we would use the city?s ?reserves.?
In May of this year, the proposed city budget outlined a plan to increase general fund ?revenues? by siphoning money from other city funds by charging ?administrative fees and intergovernmental charges.? While this funny money is not new revenue to the city, it is allowed if the fees and charges are earned. However, if the fees and charges are excessive, it is a misappropriation of funds. For example, this year?s budget proposed charging the water and sewer ratepayers over $9 million in administrative fees ($500 per each ratepayer) for the sewer plant project. This is part of the reason the project costs have multiplied from $35 million to $165 million (and rising).
I have formally requested on two occasions that the city staff provide the City Council and the public with documentation that the administrative fees and intergovernmental charges are not excessive and illegal. They have refused to comply, thus violating the California Public Records Act. The City Council went ahead and adopted the budget without being fully informed even though they were warned that a hidden utility tax would violate the city charter and their oath of office.
It is my intent to keep pressing and to hold the current city leadership financially accountable to the public. Our community deserves better.
Bryant Moynihan, Petaluma