First in a series
Both the city and county of Madera are seeking to generate economic expansion, and they are forming committees to do that.
Among those taking part for the city is Council Member Gary Svanda, who raised the issue in April during a council meeting on budget priorities and economic development. Later, he shared some of his thoughts with The Madera Tribune. Here are some of them:
“We have an unsustainable system right now when it comes to funding our city, county and state governments. And it’s a structural problem, not something that will pass in a year or two years. We don’t take in enough money to pay the bills to provide the service levels for the people who live here and expect high service levels.
“What we can do at a local level is one of two things: Try to drive revenue by raising tax rates and fees, or try to generate economic activity from which we could collect taxes naturally without having to raise rates.”
He said trying to balance the city budget by firing more people or raising taxes and fees no longer would work.
“Eighty percent of the budget is people. We’re a service-delivery organization, and it takes people to do that.
“Reducing people more than we have is not the right way to solve our problem. If we’re going to try to save ourselves into a balanced budget, we’re going to have to reduce people, thereby reducing the service level. And that’s not the right way to solve our problem. We’ve already done that.
“Our structural problem needs to be fixed not by cutting people and cutting services. I do not want to fewer police patrols on the street, I don’t want to see fewer parks being enjoyed by kids and their families. I don’t want to see less street sweeping. But I do want to see a budget that doesn’t have a structural deficit every year.
“What that means is that we, as a community, shold focus on those areas in which we can increase revenues without having to increase tax rates or fees. That means we have to find something that we do better than others so we can attract those job creators so we can generate more jobs, and along with them more taxes.”
Next: Focusing on the things we do “really, really well in the city and county of Madera.”