December 9, 2009

City Mailer Details City's Financial Plight

A letter from the City of San Leandro arrived in resident's mailboxes earlier this month detailing the financial plight of the City. The letter, signed by San Leandro Police Chief Ian Willis and Alameda County Fire Chief Sheldon Gilbert, states, "The City has been forced to cut six police officers, even though our police force is already below the number of officers needed for a city of San Leandro's size. The City is also facing the potential elimination ,of a fire ladder truck and nine firefighters, which would result in longer fire and medical emergency response times and greater loss of life and property." The letter was followed by a glossy mailer with essentially the same information.

The letter includes six questions and answers about San Leandro's services needs and a survey on residents' priorities.

On November 16, 2009, the San Leandro City Council voted to pay political consulting firm Lew Edwards Group $61,000 to educate San Leandro voters about the City's need for money. It is not clear whether this mailing is part of Lew Edwards' work.

See below for the full text of the letter.

November 30, 2009

Dear Friend:

As one of our community's leaders, we are writing to update you about San Leandro's urgent financial, public safety and vital services needs.

Sacramento politicians have recently taken $7 million from San Leandro to resolve their own budget mess, and with a new $20 billion deficit, are threatening to take more. Combined with the economic downturn, this already has resulted in a $14 million decline in City revenues, jeopardizing our community's local services, including public safety.

The City has been forced to cut six police officers, even though our police force is already below the number of officers needed for a city of San Leandro's size. The City is also facing the potential elimination ,of a fire ladder truck and nine firefighters, which would result in longer fire and medical emergency response times and greater loss of life and property. Unfortunately. the City does not have adequate funds to support local services needs.

To address these issues, the City recently commissioned a community survey to hear directly from residents about their needs. This survey found that San Leandrans want to protect local City services. In fact, 66% of voters would support a potential revenue measure to maintain important services like police, fire, 9-1-1 emergency response, library programs and street and pothole repairs.

We need temporary emergency funding to protect and maintain essential services, including:

  • Neighborhood patrol officers

  • Fire and emergency medical response times

  • Investigation and gang suppression police officers

  • Library programs for children, adults and families

  • Street and pothole repairs

  • Fire prevention services

  • School police officers and crossing guards

We are working to get as many community perspectives on these issues as possible and want to hear what your priorities are for San Leandro. Please help us by providing your input on the enclosed Community Survey and returning it today.

We will continue to keep you informed and have enclosed a "Frequently Asked Questions" sheet for your information. Please contact the City Manager's Office at 577-3353 with any further questions.


Police Chief Ian Willis           Alameda County Fire Chief Sheldon Gilbert


Frequently Asked Questions and Answers About San Leandro's Essential Services Needs

Q: What is the issue?
A: Sacramento politicians have already taken $7 million from San Leandro to solve their own budget mess, and with a new $20 billion deficit, are threatening to take more. This, combined with the faltering economy, has resulted in a $14 Million decline in City revenues, jeopardizing our community's local services, including public safety. Existing local funds are insufficient to address the City's needs.

Q: Have public safety services been affected?
A: Yes. The City has been forced to cut six police officers, even though our police force is already below the number of officers needed for a city of San Leandro's size. The City is also facing the potential elimination of a fire ladder truck and nine firefighters. Less police officers patrolling our neighborhoods and fewer firefighters will result in longer 9-1-1 emergency response times, putting our safety at risk.

Q: Are there other important needs in San Leandro?
A: We need to invest in our City's critical infrastructure and services, including our streets, libraries, and parks to keep our community strong. We must continue to support our kids by ensuring the City is a good partner to schools by offering programs and activities to keep our children focused on learning and out of trouble.

Q: How can these needs be addressed?
A: We want to get more input from the community on their priorities and will develop a plan to address these needs in the most fiscally responsible way possible. At this time, no reliable sources of revenue exist to fill the existing funding gap and maintain service levels, including police and fire protection, 9-1-1 emergency response, library hours and programs, and city street repairs. The City continues to explore all opportunities to attract new businesses and revenue generators to San Leandro. A potential San Leandro revenue measure, which may be considered at the end of this process, would generate temporary emergency funding that would be locally controlled for local services and could not be taken away by the State.

Q: How would temporary emergency funding affect San Leandro's local community services?
A: Additional funds would maintain essential services, including:

  • Neighborhood patrol officers

  • Fire"and emergency medical response times

  • Investigation and gang suppression police officers

  • Library programs for children, adults and families

  • Street and pothole repairs

  • Fire prevention services

  • School police officers and crossing guards

Q: How can I find out more information?
A: We want to hear from you-please help us develop a plan that works for San Leandro by filling out our Community Survey form. If you would like to find out more about these issues, please call the City Manager's Office at 577-3353.



Posted by Mike Katz-Lacabe at December 9, 2009 10:27 PM | TrackBack
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