After an over four-hour budget workshop meeting, Lompoc City leaders couldn’t come up with a deal to improve the city’s budget deficit.
Wednesday night the city council directed city staff to return to council with more information on suggested budget cuts. These cuts could mean cutting salaries from department heads and reducing members of the city’s planning staff.
People from the Lompoc community and some parts of Santa Maria went to the meeting to support several departments, in the hope they wouldn’t make major cuts.
The Lompoc Police Department and Lompoc Fire Department presented how bleak public safety would look if they were to cut positions.
Fire Union Representative Anthony Hudley told the council their response times would increase so much with budget cuts that the city could lose its insurance service office rating, potentially causing insurance rates to go up.
The Lompoc City Council agreed that they need to have a united approach to face budget reduction.
Lompoc’s Finance Director said a 1% sales tax increase could help the city’s budget by generating close to $5 million a year.
Some council members argued that the city should have a backup plan in case the sales tax measure doesn’t get support from the voters.
“Simply cutting is not a solution in my book,” said Gilda Cordova, Lompoc City Council Member. “We have to find ways to be able to generate this money and if we’re going to put a tax measure out to the public, I just think it needs to be a responsible tax measure because telling the public they need to pitch in and they need to pay taxes and then we’re not going to tell them how the money is going to spend is irresponsible.”
For this budget cycle, the City of Lompoc could reach over $4 million. The total amount the city owes Calpers is $84 million. The city council said a 1% sales tax will cut it down significantly after 10 years.
The city did not decide on a date to further discuss this issue.
If the City of Lompoc were to do all the budget cuts proposed on Wednesday, that would include losing six police officers, three firefighters, closing the library on Monday and potentially losing playgrounds.