Monday, June 15, 2009

Budget Deficit in Santa Cruz, CA the Original Surf City

Recession Threatens the Original Surf City (1/19/09, Times):

"With a floundering economy forcing cities nationwide to slash budgets, some municipalities are having to carve out their very souls. A Californian case in point: Santa Cruz. The city is iconic in the history of American surfing. But the city council, faced with a $7 million deficit, voted in December to close the city's surfing museum, the world's first and a mecca for locals and tourists alike since it opened in 1986. And it's not just the surfing musuem. The decision includes shutting down the natural-history museum, a teen center, a community center and a public pool.

"But it was the proposed closure of the surfing museum that sounded the loudest alarms. It immediately unleashed a tidal wave of response from surfers worldwide and sparked an emotional campaign to keep the museum afloat."

The pattern is the same as bigger California. No appreciable reduction in departmental head counts or budgets (most departments show increase), no cuts in entitlement plans, hardly any cuts in salaries and expenses (it's actually an increase there), but let's cut where people actually visit and use.

According to the Santa Cruz city's 2010 proposed budget plan, city will save $135,372 by closing two museums. By closing down a public pool, it will save $205,515. How much is the budget deficit for the city? $6,747,314. So these closures will reduce the deficit by 5%.

The budget plan doesn't say how they are going to fill the deficit, which is 12% of the budget. Their assumption about tax collection on property tax and sale and use tax looks optimistic. They are actually forecasting increased revenues over 2009.

But no matter. Why, me worry? Everybody's gone surfing.


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