Full Cost Recovery—for Recreation Only

Sam Abed was elected Mayor in November of 2010. By, June, 2011, he and his Tea Party type colleagues, Ed Gallo, Mike Morasco, and Marie Waldron had forced a budget that did not reach into the City’s reserves. A budget that closed down the East Valley Pkwy. branch of the Escondido Library, a branch with over 70,000 annual visits.. A budget that ended the City’s contribution to the Escondido Education Compact and either curtailed or drastically cut funding to other “fluff” programs as Gallo would put it.

At that June 10, 2011 Council meeting the Council majority made clear their objective, all recreational activities should bring in enough funds to pay for their operation—“full cost recovery”. They have been pursuing that end ever since—well, change personnel a bit, substitute John Masson for Marie Waldron—same philosophy. A philosophy that ignores the fact that the recreational facilities were all built with taxpayer funds. This was the same Council that approved an additional $91,630 (to the $263,579 approved in Sept., 2010,) to studies for the feasibility of a Triple A ballpark in Escondido. http://www.escondido.org/proposed-minor-league-baseball-park-in-escondido.aspx

It would have cost some $192K to have kept the East Valley Pkwy. Library branch open for a year—and the Escondido Library Endowment Fund had offered to pay some $96K of that amount, so that Council was unwilling to pay some $10,000 more to keep a library, visited by Escondido residents 70,000 times a year, open, than they spent on a pursuit of a ball park pipedream.

As the years went by, the Council relentlessly pursued their full-cost recovery goal. Pat Mues posted about it often at her escondido2014.com website. Roy Garrett, in oral comments to the City Council’s August 13, 2014 meeting, expressed an excellent argument against this policy: http://escondido2014.com/2014/08/14/our-collective-fiduciary-responsibility-to-the-future/

Garrett mentioned the Tiny Tots fiasco of last year’s budget. It was social-media publication of the Council’s intent to close the program down that pressured the Council to continue the Tiny Tot’s program.

The Council is back at it again. Now they, and City Manager Clay Phillips, are considering firing all the contracted teachers in the Recreation Program. A Program that includes some 37 adult classes, 5 teen classes, 12 youth classes and 16 classes/programs for toddlers. Classes from creating owls made of sugar to self-defense. If there are no professionals to teach these classes, who will teach them? City staff? When asked about this proposal at his meeting, last Wednesday, Abed punted. Phillips, he said was responsible for all those sort of decisions, side-tracking off into a discussion of increasing efficiency on every level, expecting the best from all employees, basically not answering the question.

Time to put pressure on the Council to save these programs. Call or e-mail the City Council members and the City Manager and ask them to keep these teachers and the classes they teach

Yes, this Council majority is all for full cost recovery, for recreation, while they blithely waive developer impact fees that give some cost recovery (not fully) to taxpayers for the infrastructure and services required for new construction.

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