By Mario Conde
The City of Calexico had a special meeting Tuesday to see the current financial situation of the City for this year.
The current fiscal year budget faces a shortfall of $1.5 million that was reported in August due to over expenditures in some departments. The City faced a $5.5 million dollar shortfall last summer. The Council approved as series of cuts in spending and went for layoffs of short-term, limited-term, and probationary employees in order to have the shortfall by the June 30 erased. Hashem said at Tuesday’s meeting that the majority of the money used in the general fund is to pay salaries and benefits.
Hashem was questioned by the Council about various items on the recent three months of this fiscal year. City Manager Victor Carrillo said that departments have been told to cut 8% of their revenue for this fiscal year in order to end with a positive balance in June. Councilman Luis Castro questioned Carrillo as to why the City Attorney spent a lot more money from her budget than what it was approved. The City Manager said that because of litigations made this year regarding the Mega Park and the Casino property.
Councilman Castro said that there needs to be stronger leadership from department heads and told City Manager that he needs to pressure the department head to work better. Castro continued by saying that Calexico is the only City in the Imperial Valley that is closing City Hall every Friday and is the only City in the valley with furlough and that have layoff people. He said that the City Manager administration needs to improve itself. Councilman Bill Hodge said that with this financial crisis there is a possibility of having some cuts in labor but urged not to go for the employees but said that it might be time to start at the top and have a 25% salary cut for department heads instead of going for those that work in the front lines, Hodge said.
Mayor John Moreno said that they should not point the finger at anyone in particular but said they need to work together in finding solutions for this crisis. Council members Romero and Hurtado agreed that the City needs to work together to find solutions and not fall in the same bad habits of the past.
The council will look at options to solve the financial crisis in the next coming meetings that will include the re-organization of the City of Calexico departments that was proposed by the council in the last City workshop.