Sunday, April 22, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 7

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on June 14th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 15 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 18, Issue 15

Lompoc budget decision delayed


The Lompoc City Council decided at its June 8 meeting to extend budget discussions past June 30 after a lengthy review of the 2017-19 draft budget. The special meeting ended with the unanimous decision to extend the deadline and the city’s current budget operations to Aug. 31, which comes after recent meetings where the city considered filing for bankruptcy.

Lompoc is facing a crisis similar to the Santa Barbara County, which stems from a lower than expected rate of return on pension investments for the city’s retired staff. Due to a 0.5 percent discrepancy, Lompoc is now stuck with a $70 million obligation to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) in the years to come.

The Lompoc city budget has to make up for tens of millions of dollars from rising pension costs. The City Council and mayor decided to extend the city’s budget deadline from June 30 to Aug. 31 at its June 8 meeting.

Lompoc City Manager Patrick Wiemiller suggested the extension after the City Council reviewed various iterations of the draft budget, including cuts to funding for services not provided by the city government, like the Lompoc Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Bureau, Domestic Violence Solutions, and the Lompoc Museum. The council also voted to reconsider some of the tax measures it turned down in previous meetings.

“We’ve been going through some iterations, we’ve done some cuts here and there, but overall we’re trying to provide as much services as possible,” Wiemiller told the Sun.

The council wanted to see a budget without additional tax measures, Wiemiller explained, then asked to put some of them back in the budget. That request came along with the restoration of previously proposed cuts, essentially agreeing to continue funding previously trimmed programs.

Wiemiller said he was “a little frustrated” with the back and forth from the council regarding the proposed tax measures.

“To me, it’s pretty clear that we should let the voters decide. I think that’s a healthy thing to do,” he said.

The proposal that the City Council considered on June 8 included nearly $1.4 million in proposed cuts to the city’s Parks Division ($710,233), Police Department ($239,260), Economic & Community Development Department ($159,000), and General Administration ($262,000).

Cuts to the Parks Division would include canceling county-provided Animal Control Services, closing Ken Adam and River Parks, and eliminating maintenance of multi-purpose trails. Proposed cuts to the Lompoc Police Department included eliminating two intern positions and a part-time generalist position, reducing SWAT training by 50 percent, and eliminating the crossing guard grant to the Lompoc Union School District.

The Lompoc City Council has until Aug. 31 to decide on a final budget, but the ultimate goal is to maintain the most city services while addressing the pension debt, Wiemiller said.

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