Year after year, the citizens of San Jose are told that their city government faces a “structural” deficit and that additional cuts in city services will have to be made to balance the budget. Whose budget is it really?
Last Monday, Oct. 26, the San Jose Mercury News provided the people of San Jose with all of the information that they need to come to a perfect understanding as to why their city continues its decline. Reporter John Woolfolk presented the following information in his article, “Unions Will Face Hard Choices.”
[City Manager Deb Figone] noted that the city’s deficits have soared this decade along with costs for its employees’ pay and benefits. While the city’s full-time workforce has shrunk from 7,000 to 6,600 since 2000, the average cost for each worker has shot up 64 percent to $120,418. Had pay and benefits merely increased at the rate of inflation as measured by the consumer price Index, the average cost would have risen 18 percent to $86,997 today.”
Woolfolk also reported that pay and benefits costs for police and fire went up 78 percent over the past ten years!
The city government of San Jose has had a budget deficit for nine consecutive years, and two-thirds of the city’s general operating fund goes towards personnel costs.
Had civic leaders had any sense at all, they would have pegged city employees’ raises to the rate of inflation. But of course, that would have required placing the needs of the people before those of their political supporters—something rarely done in the City of San Jose.
Perhaps San Jose resident Nick Cochran summed it up best in a letter published by the Merc. “It’s appallingly shameful when less than 1 percent of our city’s population can effectively control the city’s ‘spending’ gate in a way that forces the other 99 percent of us to pay more for city services than we should.”