Calexico City Council Looking To Cut Department Head Salaries

By Mario Conde

The Calexico City Council tabled an item Tuesday that recommended reducing salaries and benefits for department head positions.

This item was requested by Councilman Luis Castro on the February 16, 2010 meeting to be placed on the agenda. In a report given by City Attorney Jennifer Lyon, she said that department head positions have suffered the same cuts that other employees are facing such as reduction in pay equivalent to ten days of furlough.

Lyon said that the Department Services Director, Fire Chief, Police Chief, and Utility Services are on contract. Other department heads such as General Services, Redevelopment Director, and Community Services Director do not have contracts. At Tuesday’s meeting, Councilman Castro said that Calexico has struggled with the budget for many years and proposed to cut 20% for department heads to save $160 thousand dollars.

Councilman John Moreno said that every employee should be respected from the top department head all the way to the bottom and said that by cutting 20% salary will not solve anything. Moreno said that he stands with department heads and asked to step back and look for other ways to cut spending to balance the budget in June. Castro responded by saying that the City should be run as a business and said that saving $160,000 will be a good saving. He said that he respects department heads but said something should be done to balance the budget.

Police Officers Association president Luis Casillas said that problems with City budgets is the lack of long term planning and, according to him, is what affects the City every year. Councilman Daniel Romero said that the situation is real and they cannot wait. Romero asked the City Manager to have monthly financial report.

In other items, the Council passed an ordinance vesting exclusive authority with the City Council to reduce or waive various fees and charges owed to the City by a majority vote of the City Council. Due in part to the troubled state of the economy, the City is currently experiencing fiscal difficulties. Thus, it is increasingly necessary that the City fully recover its cost for the provision of services for which a fee is charged in order to meet the needs of its citizens, according to City Attorney. This item was requested by Councilman Romero for this meeting.

With this ordinance no City employee or individual Councilmember can act to interfere or ask for favors to waive fees for any individual or parties. The item will have go to the council to consider whether the reduction of any fees of water and sewer services, and any other fees related to the City is appropriate.