April 27, 2010
Hello Neptune Families,
as some of you read about today in the Press Democrat article, we are facing a serious threat to one of our home pools with the budget cuts proposed in the city of Santa Rosa. It's time for everyone to pick a council member or two and write a letter explaining in detail what the sport of swimming has done for you and your family. Click here to get contact info on the council members that we will be communciating with.
Please mark your calendars for May 4th...that is the next city council meeting that all Neptune athletes, family members & friends are strongly encouraged to attend this meeting to show how serious we take our swimming and how many different people will be negatively affected by this decision.
I have an aquatic advisory meeting this Thursday to discuss this problem and will have more information after this meeting. Do not delay in your action on this issue - let them hear how proud we are to be Neptunes and swimmers.
Thanks for your support & GO NEPTUNES!
City Council Meeting: Tuesday, May 4th at 4p.m.
Below is the Press Democrat article:
Howls of protest have been enough in the past to thwart the
City Council from closing its swimming pools and senior citizens' center.
Will this time different?
“Desperate times call for desperate action,” warns Mayor Susan Gorin,
describing City Hall's latest budget-cutting plan.
On the hit list are the Ridgway and Finley Center pools, the senior
center on Bennett Valley Road and in a potentially even more
controversial proposal, so is closure of a second fire station on a
One thing is certain, said councilman John Sawyer: “Things cannot
continue as they have been.”
The hot-button issues are part of the city's efforts to close a $10.3
million deficit for the next budget year, which begins July 1. That's in
addition to the more than $20 million in spending slashed last year.
The council already has approved nearly $6 million in cuts for the
coming year, including cutbacks in park maintenance, eliminating
executive positions and canceling city finding of school crossing guards.
The council will tackle the latest round of proposals when it gets an
update on its budget status May 4.
“Those are the cuts we were hoping to avoid, the ones we were keeping
for last,” said Councilman John Sawyer, recalling those angry
confrontations of January, 2009 when the council backed off the pool
closures and the shuttering of the seniors' center.
“It's going to be one helluva meeting May 4th,” Sawyer said, a
prediction seconded by Gorin, who said “The community is going to be
very vocal about the impacts of those proposals.”
On Monday, parents at the Ridgway pool were shocked to hear of the
proposed closures. “I would be devastated,” said Kim Hatch, whose
children Katie, 9, and Trevor, 6, are Neptune swim club members. “We've
been coming here since they were little.”
Carosell Morris, who has three children in the club, said “it's really
going to hurt.”
“It seems like they just keep slashing programs effecting kids,” Morris
Coach David Pfeiff said the 245 Neptune kids aren't the only ones who
depend on the pool. Santa Rosa and Maria Carrillo high teams practice
there. He said he expected “an army” of parents and swimmers at the City
Sawyer and Gorin said they hope they can find a middle-ground, perhaps
reduced hours, that might be enable the pools and the senior center to
remain operational either daily or for a limited number of days a week.
“Maybe close one pool and not the other,” Gorin said. The annual cost to
operate Finley is pegged at $139,000, Ridgway at $96,000. The cost to
operate the senior center is around $87,000.
Recreation and Parks Director Marc Richardson, whose department oversees
the pools and senior center, said the further reduction in a department
already the hardest hit by cuts the past several years, “will take us
back to the 1970s.”
“It will turn back the clock to when we were a city of 80,000, with
services for a community half our (current size),” he said of Santa
Rosa's 161,000 residents.
Also among the proposals is the closure of a second of the city's 10
fire stations, a move that Fire Chief Bruce Varner told the council's
budget committee will dramatically impact life-saving and response times.
“We always knew that was a potential but I can't imagine that
happening,” Sawyer said of a second closure, though it would save the
Sawyer acknowledged the deepening cuts are being felt personally by a
citizenry he believes has become a bit short-sighted about priorities.
“There tends to be a lack of willingness to look at the big picture when
your part of the picture is being affected,” Sawyer said.
“The question is do you want someone showing up at a fire or do you want
to keep the pool open? That will be the depth of the discussions,” he said.
Closure of the Finley Community Center at an annual savings of $260,000,
raising recreation fees 10 percent to generate an additional $331,000 in
annual revenue, and charging for the more popular parking spaces at
Howarth Park, a move expected to raise $200,000 a year, also are among
Interim City Manager Wayne Goldberg said the city is running out of
cost-cutting options that have few visible or emotional impacts.
Still, he's not sure the council will have the stomach to eliminate some
programs, including the senior center.
“There are a lot of people for which the senior center is the focus of
their lives and where they socialize,” he said.
“I think it's safe to say they (council) won't adopt everything on the
list as recommended. There are things that are very distasteful,” said
Goldberg, who expects the council will direct him to return with a
revised list of recommendations.
Goldberg said even if all the cost-cutting and revenue-raising proposals
that go before the council May 4 are adopted, the city still would face
a $2 million deficit in its projected $110 million general fund budge.
The general fund finances many of the city's traditional operations
including police, fire, parks and recreation, planning, public works and
administration among others.
Past wage and benefit concessions granted by more than a half-dozen
employee unions have resulted in millions of dollars in savings but
Goldberg said efforts to secure additional concessions “have so far not
yielded enough” to offset the current list of proposed reductions.”
Asked how far apart the two sides are, Goldberg said “It's significant.”
Also, Goldberg said none of the budget talks to date deal with a $6
million to $7 million shortfall in the city's reserve fund, which by
city policy must minimally be equal to at least 15 percent of the
general fund budget, or around $16 million.
Goldberg said the city plans to deal with that issue over several years
to ease the pressure on making even more substantive budget cuts.