A Day To Pause And Think

LA MESA – Once a year the City Council retreats away with the city staff and, without an agenda, a public hearing or angry citizens dominating the session the way they often do at regular council meetings, they spend a long day taking stock of things.

Thursday was that day for this season and in many ways, the officials liked what they saw and heard. And much of the day seemed dominated by the future: new possibilities for city streets and development. Just before lunch, the meeting took a stroll down Allison Avenue, looking at new motion-sensor activated crosswalks about to be installed (pictured above) and discussing other plans for the city’s civic center.
Here are some other highlights:

 The city’s fiscal advisers tried to parse the uncertainties of city’s long-term finances in an era of economic contraction and state and federal budget crises. The centerpiece of that discussion, officials said, dealt with steps needed to begin dealing with the city’s unfunded pension obligations. The consensus seemed to be that the city’s $500,000 payment toward that debt was realistic but perhaps too small given the magnitude of the problem. Russell Buckley, a frequent critic of the city’s handling of its pension issues, said the discussion was focusing too much on how to pay back the debt and not enough on how to reduce pension benefits to “stop the bleeding now.’’

 The city’s police chief outlined a plan that, “in an ideal world’’ would provide him with several extra officers to improve crime prevention efforts and free up patrol officers’ time to increase patrolling. It seemed unlikely, given the city’s financial constraints and the record declines in crime rates across the board, that the city would meet his request.

 The city’s fire officials chronicled the $254,000 they were able to save by merging department management with El Cajon and Lemon Grove.

 Officials also reviewed the results of a commissioned scientific survey of city residents that showed an approval rating for city services that was greater than 90 percent. However, the survey also chronicled a decline in the marks citizens give the city for its communication with residents. That part of the survey measured a marked shift from print sources to on-line information delivery but chided the city a bit for not adjusting to that shift well enough.

 

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Tags: Government, La Mesa City Council Annual Workshop, SANDAG

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Comment by DEXTER LEVY on March 26, 2011 at 10:29am

MR. SMYLE,

IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU WERE NOT ABLE TO ATTEND THE ABOVE WORKSHOP!  WHICH IS TO BAD, IT PROBABLY WOULD HAVE BEEN THE PERFECT PLACE FOR YOU TO ADDRESS YOUR CONCERNS DIRECTLY TO THOSE WHO MAKE THOSE DECISIONS!

Comment by David Smyle on March 25, 2011 at 8:53am
I guess the 10% disapproval was for the condition of the streets in La Mesa and weeds growing in the medians, gutters and other city owned areas.  Fix those first before you hire more personnel, give raises, bonuses or better yet, outsource more departments of the City (like Costa Mesa) to save on benefits and pension costs and use the money saved to do the maintenance.  If a big city like Costa Mesa can outsource, why can't La Mesa?

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