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Marin County, CA November 3, 2009 Election
Smart Voter

Prioritizing Services and Staffing in the Budget

By Marc Levine

Candidate for Council Member; City of San Rafael

This information is provided by the candidate
The City of San Rafael has an $80 Million annual budget. We're facing severe shortages in sales tax revenue due to the poor economy. We all know this. The question that faces the next Council is not "How do we survive?", but rather "How do we effectively and efficiently provide the services our city needs?"

The City has sought solutions to the budget via early retirement, attrition and leaving open job vacancies. This does not address our priorities appropriately. Our budget must reflect services that citizens need, not just what areas are easiest to cut.

Priorities must include public safety (police and fire), but also quality of life issues. There are proposals to cut the mental health officer and graffiti abatement positions. This would be penny-wise but pound-foolish. There has to be better way...

With a more than $80 million annual combined budget, we need to take a top-down approach to prioritizing what services need to be kept, and which can be dropped. I'd look at city staffing the same way, reviewing potential savings through technology, and seeing which positions can be consolidated or removed altogether. How many calls can be avoided with more informative websites? Can we use online forms to eliminate processing costs?

Likewise, can San Rafael engage and empower its citizens more effectively than an annual poll to determine service needs? By practicing community-based government as written in the City of San Rafael General Plan 2020, City Hall can move this idea from aspiration to reality. By including everyday citizens in planning, San Rafael can better determine the service needs of the community, even in economically challenging times.

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ca/mrn Created from information supplied by the candidate: October 1, 2009 10:01
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