Let's begin the root of the problem. American economics have not been much better since the “Great Recession” which started in 2008 and truthfully had not fully recovered before the “Great COVID Recession” started. We are going to be continuing to deal with the negative economic effects for some time and the result has been incredible losses in revenue to the city. This has left our city staff in the position of essentially accepting the pay offered but no room to reward performance. Historically, employees work better, more enthusiastically, and more efficiently when they feel rewarded by the work they are doing.
So, let’s jump to 2012 and the dissolution of the Ridgecrest Redevelopment Agency. This decision, one in a long line of bad decisions coming from Sacramento, ripped more than $6M from the city reserves and $3M in annual revenue and budgets. This decision resulted in Measure L and Measure V, both of which I fully support, to ensure our safety and infrastructure needs. But while the tax measure stabilized a portion of the problem, the lost revenue caused the city to re-trench extensively. The city hall staff is minimized, the employees are unrewarded, and the budget is already as thin as can be. The fact is that where we are today is a direct result of the state overreach into the RDA’s.
I know this thread specifically called out Police but I think we must consider the entire city staff. City management has worked very hard to trim and streamline City resources to bring the budget in line and build a minor reserve. This has been at the cost of any COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) for employees of the city since 2008. In the same time frame the average SSI beneficiary has received a 15.2% increase.
So, do I support an increase in pay for our employees and specifically the Police Department? Yes, I absolutely do. However, this raise can’t happen without economic growth and taking advantage of opportunities when given them. If someone wants to build, grow, and add to the economic future of this community we must openly embrace such opportunities and put aside any personal agendas or NIMB (Not in My Backyard) ideas.