HMB facing $1.75 million budget cut

By on Thu, February 19, 2009

Half Moon Bay needs to cut $1.75 million out of its annual budget of $11.6 million fast, reports the County Times.

[Interim City Manager Michael ] Dolder has met with union representatives of the local Police Officers Association and other labor groups; those meetings will resume next week.
"The sooner we do it, the better, because the economy continues to get worse. We want to be as quick as we can, rather than belabor the process," Dolder said.

The city is working to cushion the financial blow it will experience when an $18 million lawsuit settlement bill comes due June 30. It will also need to account for the recent drop in tourism and the attendant loss of hotel occupancy tax revenue, the single biggest contributor to the city’s general fund.

Half Moon Bay’s precarious financial situation comes as no surprise. In the past two months, the city — which passed an annual budget of $11.6 million in July 2008 — has already created about $920,000 in savings by slashing several vacant staff positions and reducing money transfers out of the general fund into special project funds.

The bulk of the general fund pays the salaries of staff across all city departments, especially the Police Department, so the additional $1.75 million in cuts will almost certainly have to focus on trimming more personnel.

Dolder saw the writing on the wall when he took a long-term look at the economy and the very-likely scenario that the city will be in bond debt for many years to pay off its $18 million obligation to Beachwood developer Chop Keenan come June 30.

The city is spending $15,000 a month to lobby state legislators for some sort of grant or debt-relief bill to lessen the burden of the lawsuit damages, which were negotiated down from $41 million after a federal court ruled against the city on a land-use case in 2007.