Earlier this year, the Cities of Stockton, Mammoth Lakes and San Bernadino declared bankruptcy, just a few years after the Vallejo bankruptcy. While there are always a number of factors that lead a City to file for bankruptcy protection, the lesson to be learned is that Cities, like companies and individuals, must live within their means. Mountain View has one of the best fiscal records of any City in California, if not the nation. When others were using reserves to balance budgets, Mountain View made the often difficult decision to limit its spending. Because of its fiscal stewardship, Mountain View is one of a handful of Cities across the United States to hold a AAA credit rating meaning its cost of borrowing money is much lower than it is for other Cities.

Only the voters can increase taxes in California, so it is difficult for Cities to raise revenue to meet rising expenses. Therefore, it is critical to keep a sharp eye on spending increases, especially those of an ongoing nature.  Our City adopts an annual budget every June.  As with any service organization, employee payroll and benefits make up a sizable portion of the general fund budget, generally about 85%.  As the economy cycles from strong to weak, it becomes more difficult to balance the reality of reduced revenues with increased needs for community services, investing in infrastructure, providing for public safety and ensuring that the City is a competitive employer with customer service oriented employees.

Having served eight years on the Council during the dotcom and dotbomb era's, as well as the grand recession of the past four years, I have experienced the highs and lows of government finance, and helped ensure that the taxpayers are receiving value for their hard earned taxes.   I have been involved in balancing budgets during dire economic times and have only voted to approve structurally balanced budgets.  In fact, I voted against the budget the only year in which reserves were used to balance the budget.  And this year, during negotiations with all four labor groups, the City was able to obtain long term structural changes to the compensation and pension plans that will help ensure a strong financial system going forward.

It is also worth noting that I did not, and will not seek the endorsement of any union representing Mountain View employees.  As the U.S. economy continues to struggle, it is important to have councilmembers with the experience, objectivity, understanding and ability to make difficult, yet creative decisions to ensure that what has happened in four California cities doesn't happen in Mountain View.



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Mike Kasperzak for City Council
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