Another View: Auburn's battle stations budget

Another View
By: Kevin Hanley, guest columnist
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For the last two years, Gov. (Jerry) Brown and the California Legislature have been waging a reckless war against local governments and the residents they serve. The 2011-12 state budget was a disaster on two fronts. First, the enactment of AB 109 has resulted in sending 30,000 state felons to local communities. With the closure of the Department of Correction?s Marysville office on May 31, more parolees are coming to Auburn. Second, with a 10 percent unemployment rate and the latest CEO survey that ranks California as having the worst business climate in the nation, one would expect state lawmakers to focus on promoting private sector jobs. That didn?t happen. Instead, state lawmakers, as part of the 2011-12 budget, enacted AB 1x 26 to abolish over 500 local redevelopment agencies and take billions of dollars that could have helped create private sector jobs. As one can see in Auburn?s revitalized Historic Central Square, redevelopment, when done right, creates construction jobs, helps small businesses and creates attractive places for residents, family and friends to gather. Last week, Gov. Brown signed the 2012-13 state budget, which is the most irresponsible budget ever passed in the history of California. The state budget is based on a long list of risky assumptions. It?s based on voter approval in November of Gov. Brown?s proposed $8.5 billion increase in personal income and sales tax rates. It assumes that the new state-run Cap and Trade auction for CO2 gas emissions will generate $1 billion from the pockets of energy shareholders and ratepayers. It assumes, with only a tiny 1 percent budget reserve, that there will be no major fires in the state following one of driest winters in memory. It assumes that voters will sheepishly raise their own taxes in November despite the legislature?s approval last week of the $68 billion bullet train boondoggle. When the governor and state lawmakers take off their rose-colored glasses in November and see reality, one can confidently predict that they will once again try to grab funds from well-managed city and county coffers. How should the City of Auburn react to a consistently hostile state government? As I learned from my time in the U.S. Navy, there is only one option when under attack - go to battle stations, batten-down the hatches and fight back. On June 25, the Auburn City Council passed a fiscally prudent $8.6 million general fund budget with a 34 percent reserve for economic uncertainties. We need a healthy reserve to ensure that we can provide basic municipal services in event of a sudden drop in sales tax revenues, a natural disaster, or a state government revenue grab. Auburn?s budget supports a strong police force and a unique city-county effort to create a Special Investigative Unit to tackle narcotic crimes and the impact of state felons coming to the Auburn area. Auburn?s budget supports a strong fire department so that we can make further progress in proactively preventing a catastrophic fire and ensuring quick response times for medical emergencies and car accidents. And Auburn will spend $7.5 million in enterprise funds this year to make sewer repairs and wastewater treatment plant improvements, pave roads, create sidewalks, and improve the safety of the Auburn Airport. And last but not least, we will continue to focus on job creation in Auburn. The City Council, city manager, city staff, business leaders, and the great volunteers on our many city commissions are working hard to recruit new businesses, revive Streetscape projects, make Auburn a world class adventure destination, support the new California Welcome Center at Old City Hall, and promote and preserve our gold rush heritage. Kevin Hanley is the mayor of Auburn