Rancho Palos Verdes City Council
   

TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND COUNCILMEMBERS

FROM: CITY MANAGER

DATE: JULY 1, 2003

SUBJECT: RESPONSE TO WOLOWICZ RECOMMENDATIONS

RECOMMENDATION:

Consider the following responses to Mr. Stefan Wolowicz’s recommendations regarding budget issues.

BACKGROUND:

At the June 17, 2003 City Council meeting Mr. Stefan Wolowicz offered several recommendations regarding budget issues during the public comments portion of the meeting. Councilmember McTaggart asked that his recommendations be analyzed by staff and returned to the Council as an agenda item for discussion. The recommendations included:

  1. Postpone any cutbacks in the CORE Deputy Program for one year.
  2. Contact Rolling Hills Estates and Rolling Hills and ask them for a greater contribution toward the CORE Deputy program.
  3. Reduce City staff attending Commission/Committee meetings.
  4. Encourage a letter writing campaign to State legislators in opposition to reducing revenues to Cities.

DISCUSSION:

Each of Mr. Wolowicz’s recommendations are discussed below:

  1. Postpone any cutbacks in the CORE Deputy Program for one year.
  2. In FY 96-97, a Special Assignment Officer (SAO) was added to the Sheriff’s regular patrol force to provide community-based policing services for the region. A second SAO was added during FY 97-98 and a third SAO (South SAO) was added in FY 99-00. In FY 00-01, the name of the program was changed to the Community Resource (CORE) program.

    The CORE Team deputies primarily police the local high school, intermediate schools and commercial areas in the three-city region in order to detect and deter juvenile crime. However, the Team’s duties have expanded with the addition of the third deputy in FY 99-00 to also include monitoring the open space areas on the south side of the Peninsula, assisting the Neighborhood Watch program and improving emergency preparedness.

    Since it was first created six years ago, one of the primary missions of the CORE Team is to police Peninsula High School, Rancho del Mar Continuation School, Miraleste Intermediate School, Dodson Junior High School and adjacent shopping areas in order to detect and deter juvenile crime. Because of the variables involved in the reporting of data on juvenile crime, we cannot be certain of the exact effect that the CORE team has had on juvenile crime in the City, and in and around the schools. For the City of Rancho Palos Verdes, however, the Sheriff’s Department has reported the following number of incidents involving youth, which indicates a declining trend over the past six years:

    YEAR

    # OF CORE DEPUTIES

    JUVENILE CRIMES

    1997

    1

    149

    1998

    2

    99

    1999

    3

    95

    2000

    3

    66

    2001

    3

    42

    2002

    3

    36

    According to the Sheriff’s Department, the criteria consisted of all crime reports involving a subject between the ages of five and seventeen. This included both identified subjects and unidentified subjects with a description provided by a witness (based on information provided by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Lomita Station).

    In addition to the crime statistics submitted by the Sheriff, Gail Lorenzen, our Neighborhood Watch Coordinator, has submitted a letter in support of the CORE Deputy program. A copy of the letter is attached.

  3. Contact Rolling Hills Estates and Rolling Hills and ask them for a greater contribution toward the CORE Deputy program.
  4. During the first six years of the program, the City funded the CORE Team through a combination of state and federal grants. The City has received funding through the U.S. Department of Justice "Local Law Enforcement Supplemental Services" (LLESS) grant program and the State of California through AB 3229 (Brulte) legislation, which is also known as the Citizens’ Options for Public Safety (COPS) program. In FY 03-04, the City expects to receive $15,000 from the LLESS grant and $100,000 from the COPS program. The funding history of the CORE program is shown in the chart below:

     

    FY 96-97

    FY 97-98

    FY 98-99

    FY 99-00

    FY 00-01

    FY 01-02

    FY 02-03

    Estimated

    Beginning Fund Balance

    -0-

    $96,138

    $146,337

    $168,186

    $142,335

    $113,317

    $50,242

    Grant Income

    $124,396

    $124,934

    $123,596

    $122,754

    $119,484

    $122,782

    $115,851

    Interest

    $3,077

    $7,777

    $9,529

    $10,592

    $10,282

    $4,317

    $1,054

    Total Resources

    $127,473

    $228,849

    $279,462

    $301,732

    $272,101

    $240,416

    $167,147

    Total Expenditures

    $31,335

    $82,512

    $111,276

    $159,397

    $158,784

    $190,174

    $205,000

    Ending Fund Balance

    $96,138

    $146,337

    $168,186

    $142,335

    $113,317

    $50,242

    (37,853)

    Because the program started with only one deputy and was increased over time to three, the City was able to build up a fund reserve during the first three years of the program. The fund reserve peaked in FY 98-99 with a balance of $168,186. However, with the addition of the third deputy in FY 99-00 and a declining federal grant funding levels since that time, the program’s reserve was exhausted in FY02-03 and the City was required to back fill for the first time with a transfer from the General fund. The amount of federal grant funding is expected to continue to decline, requiring a larger backfill of General fund money to continue the program at its current level.

    In FY 03-04, the cost to fund one CORE Deputy position will be $115,821. The City of Rancho Palos Verdes’ share is 60% of this amount or $69,493. The chart below indicates the cost to support the CORE program at various levels in FY 03-04:

    FY 2003-04

    1 Deputy

    2 Deputies

    3 Deputies

    Expected Grant Funding

    $115,000

    $115,000

    $115,000

    RPV’s Share of Program Cost

    -$69,493

    -$138,986

    -$208,479

    Reserve/(Required Backfill)

    $45,507

    ($23,986)

    ($93,479)

    As adopted, the FY 03-04 City Budget includes funding for two CORE Deputy positions and a $24,000 transfer from the General fund to make up the difference between the expected grant funding and the City’s share of program cost at this level. If the number of CORE Deputies is increased to three, an additional transfer of $69,493 will be required to fill the resulting $93,479 gap.

    The City is reimbursed for 40% of the cost of this program by the other regional cities (Rolling Hills Estates: 30% and Rolling Hills: 10%) through the Regional Law Enforcement agreement. The Cities of Rolling Hills and Rolling Hills Estates both receive $100,000 each year to support the CORE Team from the State of California COPS grant program (AB 3229, Brulte). Both cities use the COPS fund only for the CORE program and both cities have been able to build up reserves in their funds to support the program in future years when grant funding sources decline.

    The City of Rolling Hills Estates receives $100,000 annually in COPS funding and if all three deputies are retained will need $102,000 to fund their share this fiscal year. Rolling Hills Estates does have a small reserve of about $6,000 of COPS funds and the City Manager is willing to ask his Council to consider utilizing those funds to reduce the City of Rancho Palos Verdes share of funding for three CORE deputies.

    Although the City of Rolling Hills has a substantial reserve of COPS funds, they have contributed $46,146 of Proposition C funds and $38,400 of CDBG funds to Rancho Palos Verdes this fiscal year. Through the years Rolling Hills has been very generous in contributions of Prop C and CDBG funds to RPV. The value of the funds received from the City of Rolling Hills, although restricted money, is probably worth between $42,000 and $50,000 in General fund dollars (assuming 50 to 60 cents on the dollar)

  5. Reduce City staff attending Commission/Committee meetings.
  6. 23 of our 45 full-time City employees provide some type of regular support to City Commissions/Committees through behind the scenes details such as delivery of agenda packets and room set-up and tear down. The pre-meeting professional support includes research, preparation and review of staff reports as well as preparation and posting of agendas. The more visible elements of Commission and Committee meetings are the presentation of reports and taking of minutes. In addition to City staff time, the preparation of detailed minutes for several of our Commission/Committees is now taken by contract Court Reporters. Other professional contract employees provide considerable support for the Traffic Committee and occasional support for the Finance Advisory Committee and Open Space Planning, Recreation and Parks Task Force.

    The staff time (not including contract personnel) necessary to support an estimated 84 meetings annually of the Planning Commission, Traffic Committee, Finance Advisory Committee, Open Space Planning, Park and Recreation Task Force, Emergency Preparedness Committee and Equestrian Committee is conservatively estimated at just over 5600 hours (including overtime hours) or about 7% of all available staff time (about $180,000). City staff also support the General Plan Update Task Force and the 30th Anniversary Committee that are not analyzed in this report since their assignments are not of permanent duration. Staff support requirements range from approximately 96 hours for each Planning Commission meeting to about 22 for an Equestrian Committee meeting and only about 12 for an Emergency Preparedness Committee Meeting (plus the cost of a contract minute taker). The Finance Advisory Committee consumes up to 85 hours of staff time for each meeting (plus the cost of a contract minute taker). Traffic Committee meetings require a commitment of about 68 hours of staff time (and a considerable amount of our contract Traffic Engineer’s time). The Open Space Planning, Recreation and Parks Task Force is trying to complete a difficult assignment in a two year period and currently requires about 90 hours of staff time for each meeting (plus consultant time). Approximately 900 (600 hours at time and one half equals 900 hours) of the over 5600 hours of Committee support involve attendance at evening meetings by non-management staff that is paid overtime at one and one half times their regular pay rate.

    The following are some cost savings ideas for City Council consideration:

    1. The reduction of staff by allowing a Commission or Committee member, or someone in his/her employ, to take minutes could result in a cost savings of up to $300 per meeting. On the negative side, allowing a member of a committee to control the minute taking may also open that member, and possibly the City, to criticism of bias.
    2. Cost savings could potentially be realized by limiting attendance at evening meetings to management employees. However, the City has only eight management employees and often the staff work presented, or questions anticipated, make attendance of specialty staff who actually prepared, or will prepare reports, necessary in order for the work of the Commission/Committee to proceed smoothly.
    3. A reduction in the number of Committees by eliminating the Equestrian Committee may be an idea for the Council to consider. However, supporting the Equestrian Committee requires only about 22 staff hours each month, so the cost savings would not be substantial. Another possibility to consider is reducing the meeting schedules of the Finance Advisory Committee and the Emergency Preparedness Committee to alternate months. Finally, at such time as the Open Space Planning, Recreation and Parks Task Force completes its work, the Council may wish to consider whether or not the Recreation and Parks Committee will be reconstituted and if they might also meet in alternate months.
  7. Encourage a letter writing campaign to State legislators in opposition to reducing revenues to Cities.

Staff has attempted to generate interest in contacting State legislators by writing to all our homeowners’ associations and grant recipients as well as speaking to the Peninsula Realtors. The response to our request has not been encouraging, with the exception of the Peninsula Chamber which has taken a proactive stance. The City Council and individual members of the Finance Advisory Committee have also written letters to our legislators regarding budget issues.

Respectfully submitted,
Les Evans,
City Manager

Attachment: Letter from Gail Lorenzen