Vallejo, California is not the only city with money problems, it�s just among the worst at dealing with them.
I�m no math genius, but even I can see that when 80 percent of your budget goes to two groups� salaries, which automatically rise by double digits every year, a time will eventually come when more is going out than is coming in.
This never seems to work well.
I appreciate the contributions to life quality made by firefighters and police departments, but I can think of no reason that those so employed in Vallejo should make substantially more than their counterparts elsewhere.
There are no high-rises making fire-fighting more difficult here and Vallejo is not the world�s murder capitol or anything. I�ll bet that if they were offered salaries closer to the normal range people would still be willing to be a cop or a firefighter here.
Though the intransigence of the parties involved make this unlikely, the ideal solution would be to go back to the day the untenable contract was signed, and start over. I�m guessing that even at that year�s rate, Vallejo�s wages would be considered handsome. Anyone not willing to take whatever pay cut this would entail would, naturally, be free to go elsewhere.
The unfortunate safety union contracts aren�t the only reason Vallejo�s faces possible bancruptcy, of course.
Nearly all city managers and many other city employees are, in my opinion, overpaid, and many don�t live in town. This means that whatever consequences are visited on Vallejo�s residents as a result of these employee�s recommendations, decisions or contracts, don�t impact them or their families.
But even this isn�t the only problem.
Most experts seem to agree that the precipitous loss of revenues into city coffers is exacerbating the situation. Some of that � the national economic downturn and real estate and credit crises � are beyond the city�s control. But there�s some other stuff, that at least was once totally within the city�s control.
I hate to bring this up, but some of our revenue, not to mention jobs, were lost to nearby American Canyon when the anti-Wal-Mart forces succeeded in stymieing that firm�s attempt to build a supercenter to replace their old store.
I know the argument � Wal-Mart puts smaller competitors out of business and pays lousy wages. But you know, there�s been a Wal-Mart in Vallejo for a long time, and people worked there, and other businesses survived, so I don�t know how seriously we need to take that argument. And as for the concern over there being two Wal-Marts within only a few miles of each other, it seems to me that if the company itself feels it can support them � and it hasn�t grown into the world�s largest retailer by being stupid or foolhardy � then what�s the harm?
What is abundantly clear, is that there are now zero Wal-Marts in Vallejo, which doesn�t seem to have helped anyone.
I sure hope that none of the for sale signs I see on houses around town belong to anyone from the stop-Wal-Mart-at-all-cost folks, I�ll tell you that.
What we need to do, besides cut waste and lower bloated salaries, is come up with unorthodox and clever ways of producing revenue while avoiding putting too much of the burden on residents.
Other cities are finding ways to tackle the problem.
I have it on good authority, in fact, that officials of the nearby city of Cotati, are thinking outside the box to raise revenues � the litter box, in this case.
It seems that one way Cotati is raising revenue is by posting poop police at parks, to sniff out pet owners who let their pets off their leashes.
The fine is $75 a pop. Or a poop, whichever the case may be.
Maybe there�s an idea in there, somewhere.
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