Sacramento, California

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Sacramento is the capital city of California and the county seat of Sacramento County. It is located at the confluence of the Sacramento River and the American River in the northern portion of California's expansive Central Valley. With a population of 466,488 at the 2010 census, it is the sixth-largest city in California. Sacramento is the core cultural and economic center of the Sacramento metropolitan area which includes seven counties; with an estimated population of 2,927,123. Its metropolitan area is the fourth largest in California after the Greater Los Angeles Area, San Francisco Bay Area, and the San Diego metropolitan area as well as the 25th largest in the United States.

Budget

The Proposed FY 2011-2012 budget totals $812.1 million. The General Fund budget amounts to $362.2 million. The city faces a $39 million general fund budget gap for the fiscal year, the result of both expenditure increases and tax revenue decreases. $20 million of the budget gap comes from labor costs. The proposed budget closes this gap.[1]

The city's fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30. The city manager proposes a budget annually to the City Council, who must approve a balanced budget.[2]

2012 mars the sixth straight year of Sacramento budget deficits. The city has eliminated 1,400 positions, 25 percent of its workforce, over that time span. The total dollar figure for deficits addressed in that time now stands at $234 million.[3]

Public employees

Elected officials

The city's current mayor is Kevin Johnson, who took office in December, 2008.

City council

The city is governed by an 8 member city council, each representing a specific district.[4]

Administrative officials

A city organizational chart can be found here. A list of all city departments with contact information can be found here. The city auditor is appointed by the City Council and operates independent of all other departments and offices. The current city auditor is Jorge Oseguera.[5]

City manager

The city's administrative duties are handled by a city manager. The city manager is responsible for enforcing laws and ordinances, coordinating programs, making recommendations to the Mayor and Council, and producing an annual budget proposal. The city manager is appointed by the Mayor and City Council. The current interim city manager is Bill Edgar.[6]

The city underwent a nation-wide search for a permanent city manager after interim manager Gus Vina resigned in March, 2011. The position had remained empty since city manager Ray Kerridge resigned following the "permit-gate" scandal, in which homes were allowed to be constructed in a restricted flood zone in violation of FEMA regulations.[7] It was the second time in 13 months that a city manager had stepped down.[8] Six city managers had resigned the position over the last five years. In July, 2011, the city council voted to offer the permanent position to John Shirey.[9]

Salaries

The city provides salary information for all top officials here. Some key official salaries:[10]

Name Position Salary
Kevin Johnson Mayor $116,646
City Council Members $60,800
Eileen Teichert City Attorney $189,000
Shirley Concolino City Clerk $128,100
Russell Fehr City Treasurer $165,006

Pensions

Sacramento is facing nearly $2 billion in long-term unfunded pension liabilities. The big three categories are:[11]

  • $950 million in retirement benefits
  • $823 million in bond debt
  • $167 million in other future costs, including insurance claims, development fee credits and landfill closures

Under agreements reached between the City Council and labor unions more than 20 years ago, most city retirees receive $300 a month for medical costs. Employees who retire from the Fire Department get roughly $750 a month. City leaders said the pay-as-you-go formula is not sustainable. To keep pace with future obligations to the medical benefit, he said annual payments by the city would need to increase by $30 million, leaders said.[12]

City employees are required to participate in the California Public Employees' Retirement System. A summary of employee benefits can be found here.

Police and firefighters are currently exempt from paying into their CalPERS retirement accounts, something that Mayor Kevin Johnson and the City Council are looking to change. Firefighter and police contracts run through 2013, and any changes would have to be made by re-opening the contract or waiting for its expiration. As a result of rising emergency personell pension costs, the FY 2011-2012 budget laid off police and firefighters. The city estimates that a 4% contribution to the CalPERS system would save the city $4 million annually.[13]

Councilman Steve Cohn that the city attorney's office provide a legal opinion on a possible ballot measure on pension changes. Cohn wants to know whether a ballot measure requiring added employee contributions to pensions would be legal, given that those changes could supersede the collective bargaining process.[14]

A half-cent hike passed in November kicks in April 1, raising the total sales tax in Sacramento to 8.5 percent. The city will get about $5 million more before the current fiscal year ends June 30 and an estimated $27 million a year after that. There's still a general fund deficit projected at $9.5 million for 2013-14 and around $14 million each of the next four budgets. Those figures – outlined in a five-year financial forecast the council is set to receive Tuesday night – are based on current contracts with city employee unions and on expected increases in pension costs.[15]

Police and fire pensions

Sacramento officials have reached a tentative agreement with the city's firefighter union, a deal that would save 44 jobs. Details of the tentative deal have not been released, the City Council has sought increased pension payments from firefighters to help fill a citywide $15.7 million deficit.[16]

However, the police unions are not willing to make the same concessions, which could cost 19 officers their positions due to lack of funding. In 2011 several Sacramento officers were laid off because they were not willing to make concessions on pensions which limited the city budget.[17] The city wants the officers to pay nine percent of retirement costs. If the union doesn't agree, 19 officers will lose their jobs. Police officers currently do not pay into their funds.[18] The City Council voted 8-1 June 12 to approve a citywide budget that will result in 19 police officers being laid off at the end of the month after labor negotiators failed to reach a deal with the police union over pensions.[19]

Lobbying

See also: California government sector lobbying

For 2007 and 2008, Sacramento spent $797,232 on lobbying.[20]

Transparency and public records

In July, 2011, Mayor Kevin Johnson announced the Streamline Sacramento Initiative, which will be moving the full building and permitting process online. The goal is for builders to be able to schedule appointments, submit plans, and monitor inspection statuses on the internet.[21]

In 2009, the city launched Sacramento City 311, a single point of contact for all city services. The phone number provides 24 hour access to operators capable of handling a range of requests, from building permit information to sanitation. The service recently expanded to include online access and concern reporting.[22]

Taxes

The city collects a business tax, with all necessary application forms available online. The city also provides a city fee database, allowing citizens to search either by keyword or department for all existing fees.[23]

Website evaluation

See also: Evaluation of California city websites
Grade2.pngA-
Budget Y
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Meetings Y
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Elected Officials Y
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Administrative Officials Y
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Permits, zoning Y
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Audits Y
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Contracts Y
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Lobbying N
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Public Records
{{{1}}}
Local Taxes Y
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School district websitesGuide.png
Transparency grading process

The good

  • Budget
    • Budget information is available online.[24]
    • Budgets are archived to 2004.
  • Audits
    • Audit reports are available.[25]
    • Audits are archived to 2003.
  • Meetings
    • Agendas and minutes are available for City Council Meetings.[26]
    • Meetings are archived for over three years.
  • Elected officials
    • The Mayor and city council officials contact information and detailed biographies are posted online.[27]
  • Administration
    • Administrative departments and officials' names and contact information is provided.[28]
  • Permits and zoning
    • Building permit forms are posted.[29]
    • Zoning information is posted.[30]
  • Contracts
    • Information on bids and proposals are available.[31]
    • Vendor portal is posted.[32]
  • Public records
    • Provides access to public records[33]
  • Taxes
    • Tax information and forms are available.[34]
  • Lobbying
    • City requires registering of lobbyists who lobby council.[35]

The bad

  • Lobbying
    • Information on taxpayer funded lobbying is not provided.
  • Checkbook register
    • There is no checkbook register available

External links


References

  1. Proposed budget
  2. Budget process
  3. CBS, Sacramento Passes Budget But Still Seeks Concessions From Police, June 12, 2012
  4. City council
  5. City auditor
  6. City manager
  7. Flood Zone Violations To Cost Taxpayers, "CBS Sacramento," 16 Nov, 2010
  8. Sacramento Interim City Manager Gus Vina Resigns, "The Sacramento Bee," 25 March, 2011
  9. City Council Offers Job to City Manager Candidate, "CBS Sacramento," 20 July, 2011
  10. Admin salaries
  11. Sacramento Bee, Editorial: Sacramento must tackle unfunded debts, worker benefits, Jan. 8, 2013
  12. Sacramento Bee, Sacramento city manager details unfunded debt obligations, Jan. 9, 2013
  13. Mayor Johnson urges pension talks to save Sacramento police jobs, "The Sacramento Bee," 29 June, 2011
  14. Sacramento Bee, Sacramento council steps up talk on pensions, taxes, June 8, 2012
  15. Sacramento Bee, Editorial: Even with sales tax boost, Sacramento City Council must take hard look at benefits, Jan. 13, 2013
  16. Sacramento Bee, Tentative deal with Sacramento firefighters would save 44 jobs, June 12, 2012
  17. Sacramento Bee, Marcos Breton: Cops risk losing public support over pension stance, June 13, 2012
  18. California Public Radio, Sacramento Police Union Still Balking at Pension Contributions, June 12, 2012
  19. Sacramento Bee, Sacramento council approves city budget; pension talks continue with police union, June 13, 2012
  20. State-Level Lobbying and Taxpayers: How Much Do We Really Know?, Pacific Research Institute
  21. Sacramento streamlines permit process online, "Sacramento Business Journal," 27 July, 2011
  22. 311
  23. Search for City Fees
  24. Budget
  25. Audit reports
  26. Agenda and Minutes
  27. Mayor and City Council officials
  28. Departments Guide
  29. Building Permits
  30. Zoning Information
  31. Bids and Proposals
  32. Vendor portal
  33. Public records
  34. Revenue services
  35. City Lobbying