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Calexico budget: Not enough revenue to fund more personnel

June 27, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — The City Council and city department heads here heard discouraging words from Oliver "Lee" Drummond, a San Clemente-based fiscal consultant working for the city, at the start of a budget workshop.

"Because there weren't additional revenues I couldn't approve any of those positions," Drummond said.

Many department heads had requested additional personnel in their 2001-2002 budgets: firefighters for the Fire Department, an assistant for the Planning Department, graffiti abatement personnel for the Building Department and maintenance workers for city parks for the Public Works Department.

After Drummond finished his presentation, Mayor Pro Tem John Renison said, "No projected new positions in this budget?"

"There are none," Drummond replied.

He said he was "very conservative in adding personnel costs" when balancing the budget with City Manager Richard Inman and interim city Finance Director Veronica Alvarado.

Drummond, vice president of PMW Associates of San Clemente, said, "You need every available dollar."

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In discussions that followed, department heads requested the personnel they thought they needed despite Drummond's restrictive proposed budget and the City Council went about finding the dollars with which to pay those positions.

An especially impassioned plea was made by Planning Director Ricardo Hinojosa.

He moved a chair to the center of the Woman's Improvement Club where the meeting was staged and directly faced the five councilmen.

"I am asking for a planning assistant and an office secretary," Hinojosa said.

He said sometimes he has people waiting "10-deep" in his lobby and isn't able to get to everyone quickly. "It's not professional."

He made the case that expediting the workload of the Planning Department would bring more revenue into the city and help deal with applications and maps for thousands of new homes planned for the Calexico area.

"We need more staff. That's the bottom line. I guess I'm pleading," he said.

Mayor Victor Carrillo responded, "The Planning Department needs more staff and I'd like to see it included."

This successful lobbying by Hinojosa led to requests from the Building and Public Works departments for entry-level personnel.

Alvarado said the additional personnel requested could cost $1 million that wasn't budgeted.

Councilman Javier Alatorre said, "I got the impression that we were supposed to be working with what we had right now. Everyone should be allowed to request at the beginning."

He added: "I thought we would not be funding new positions."

Councilman Gilbert Grijalva agreed with Alatorre and said the council needed a sheet with personnel requests from each department.

"We can't do that tonight," Renison said.

He directed Drummond and Alvarado to put together a list of personnel requests and a summary on the status of the various city accounts.

"You can get that done before you leave, right?" Renison asked.

Drummond, who told the council he would be leaving town at noon today, said, "Yes, sir."

Carrillo said department heads had until Friday to submit their requests.

"We'll look at all of the requests and hire who we can," Carrillo said.

At Tuesday's council meeting, the council could vote to approve the final budget, he said.

City Attorney Michael Rood said, "That sounds fine."

Preliminary estimates provided at the workshop show an 8 percent increase in spending from last fiscal year: from $10.1 million in 2000-2001 to $10.9 million projected for 2001-2002.

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419.

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