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Campbell mayor, council at odds over budget

Published: Sat, March 6, 2010 @ 12:06 a.m.

By Jeanne Starmack



The city has a balanced budget, but it’s still in fiscal emergency until it can project budgets for the next five years in which spending doesn’t outpace revenues.

A state commission that oversees Campbell’s spending is still going to call the shots until the five-year forecast is satisfactory.

The financial distress is a heavy weight for the small city.

Police are frustrated because of inadequate manpower in their department and no raises in six years. The understaffed fire department will actually cost residents, who will now pay more in homeowner’s insurance.

Added to the mix is a new mayor who is so at odds with city council and the city’s finance director that he plans to veto the budget that council approved Wednesday. Mayor George Krinos says the council and Finance Director Sherman Miles altered his budget proposal in meetings that didn’t include him. Council, in turn, is ready to override the veto.

Some residents are angry — they come to council meetings and accuse council of not working with Krinos, who was elected in November over longtime mayor Jack Dill.

Council member Juanita Rich said she’s frustrated when residents accuse council members of having their own agendas.

“My ‘agenda’ is to serve my ward and the city,” she said.

From out of this scenario, city officials have to chart a way to financial recovery. The city is expected to introduce a recovery plan soon and will submit it to the state.

Campbell has been in fiscal emergency since 2004. The 2010 budget balanced after state-ordered revisions eliminated a $463,000 deficit. But the five-year projections also need that black ink, said Paul Marshall, chairman of the state oversight commission, at a meeting Thursday between the commission and city officials.

The new budget shows a carryover of $753,320 at the end of 2010. But the city can’t use the carryover to hire more employees, Marshall explained — once the carry-over is spent, it’s gone.

To get rid of deficit spending, the city needs new revenues or it must make more cuts. The city could hire new employees or give raises, he said — but it will have to pay for them through new revenues or cuts.

Residents want the crisis solved. One complained Wednesday his homeowner’s insurance is going up 50 percent because of the understaffed fire department.

Krinos recalled a laid-off firefighter in January. Now, he contends, the budget revisions done without him eliminated the money for that firefighter, and he may have to be laid off again. The state says only that a budget adjustment has to be made.

Miles countered that among other weaknesses in Krinos’ budget proposal, it “gutted the park fund” by $100,000.

Rich said Krinos needs to realize the city doesn’t have the money to give him everything he wants.

She said legislation Krinos sponsored on leasing street- and storm-sewer cleaning equipment is an example of “surprises,” because Krinos doesn’t adequately discuss legislation with council before drafting it. Krinos says leasing the equipment will save money over contracting cleaning services. The state would want proof of that. Council sent his legislation into committee Wednesday.

Rich also said that Krinos’ budget was just a proposal. Council makes the budget appropriations.

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