PASO ROBLES — There is some concern that Recreation and Library services provided by the City of Paso Robles will be reduced or cut altogether at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

The Paso Robles Press has received emails from the public that were also sent to the City Council ahead of Tuesday’s meeting.

“Dear City Council members, I urge you to stop your plan to remove the Recreation Services Division from Paso Robles,” wrote Cindi Byleckie of Paso Robles. “My husband and I have loved Paso Robles in large part because of Rec Services. The people, the classes and the Concerts in the Park on Thursdays are all wonderful things that Rec Services provides. They have helped us become part of the community.

“Since we’ve been here, we’ve taken advantage of their aquatics classes, arts and crafts classes as date nights and almost daily use of either Barney Schwartz, Centennial or City parks.

“Please Save this ESSENTIAL service! Paso Robles Rec Service rocks,” she added.

Jan Foss of Paso Robles stated that if cuts need to be made, they should come from other areas.

“I am a citizen of Paso Robles, writing to encourage the city council to maintain the vital social services to our community, including the library, senior center, and Centennial Hall,” Foss wrote. “We have lost so much of what makes this a wonderful city — theater, outdoor festivals, music, museums, etc. Let’s keep this a wonderful city and provide essential services for the well being of our citizens. If necessary, consider defunding the homeless camp, and put the funds to use for the betterment of people who live and work here and pay our taxes.”

Tuesday’s agenda includes under “discussion” actions to further reduce and prioritize operating costs. At the Sept. 1 meeting, City Council directed staff to bring back proposals for $1.5 million to $2.5 million in reductions that do not impact Public Safety or Public Works.

The agenda item does not explicitly say Recreation or Library services will be eliminated or reduced. However, these are what remain if fire, police and street services cannot be touched. Plans A and B and some alternatives are included in the staff report.

Staff’s recommendation is for the City Manager to continue budget and service re-prioritization and reduction efforts, including meet and confer sessions with the City’s labor groups, to achieve changes made necessary by the COVID-19 pandemic, the structural deficit, and stated resident priorities; and prepare for the potential implementation of Plan B in the fiscal year 2021-22.

Plan B includes cost and reductions that will need to be implemented if Measure J, the city’s 1-percent sales tax increase, does not pass in November. 

“Expenditure reductions have been developed and analyzed in both personnel services and non-personnel expenses,” staff stated for Plan B. “Reductions in personnel services would be made through a combination of position reductions and compensation reductions, over and above ongoing natural attrition and incentivized reductions. After the meet and confer process is completed, compensation reductions could be a mixture of salary cuts, furloughs, benefit reductions, and other measures. All would likely have direct implications for service quantity and quality. Personnel reductions would be concentrated in the non-public safety functions provided by the General Fund (no reductions are anticipated in the enterprise funds: water, wastewater, and airport).”

The staff report adds that “given that the budget for police and fire comprise roughly half of the General Fund budget, if all cost savings were achieved through position reductions, one out of every eight full-time-equivalent positions in those nonpublic safety departments would be deleted, a reduction of approximately 22.6 FTEs. Reorganizations in several functions would be necessary to maintain the functionality of the organizational structure. Those activities that generate revenues sufficient to cover their costs (e.g., building inspection) would not be impacted.”

Plan A looks at possible reductions the City can move on now, regardless of the outcome of Measure J. 

“For this option, on September 1, Council directed staff to implement additional cost-reduction steps already planned and discussed with labor groups (such as a Voluntary Retirement/ Resignation Program to achieve personnel cost reductions), as well as additional reductions in the amount of $1.5 million to $2.5 million this fiscal year and the associated service level reductions that would be needed (with the lessor impacts being applied to police, fire, street, water and sewer services),” the staff report stated.

Alternatives include reevaluating the reserves policy and considering a lower General Fund reserve level and deferring street repairs in the six-year street plan.

Tuesday’s City Council meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will be streamed live on the City’s YouTube channel www.prcity.com/youtube34. Residents should call 805-865-7276 to provide public comment via phone. To view the agenda, visit www.prcity.com.

Getting through this together, Paso Robles