The city’s brand-spanking-new Fiscal Sustainability Committee held its first meeting Tuesday night at City Hall West on the base. What’s that, you say? A group of the city’s finest fiscal minds (Treasurer Kevin Kennedy, who’s running this thing, compared them to the Justice League), brought together to try to figure out where the city is headed financially over the next decade, and to explain the city’s finances to the rest of us in a way even the most challenged of us (and I put myself in this category) can understand.
Basically, city leaders don’t want to see us turn into Vallejo – did you know they went bankrupt? – or other cities in the area that they fear may be heading in the same direction. Even if the economy improves, there are a variety of economic forces that could continue to strain the city’s finances, including the slow squeeze of Proposition 13, ongoing state raids on local revenues like property and sales taxes, and the cash-sucking black hole that is public safety retiree benefits – an estimated $73 million that we now owe over the next 20 years, an amount that is nearly equal to Alameda’s entire general fund budget for next year, give or take a few million.
So they’ll meet twice a month over the next six months to put their 10-year financial model together, which they’ll then present to the public. And where do we go from there? Well, that’s up to us.