Saturday, March 02, 2013

City Council's Strategic Planning Session

City Council held a special Strategic Planning workshop on February 26th.  City Manager Daniel Valenzuela sought feedback for council on priorities for the coming budget (2013-14) and five year capital plan (2013-18).  Council met for two hours and forty minutes.  Through discussion they generated 10-15 major ideas, filling two and a quarter flip chart pages. 

Oddly, no one mentioned the city's pension plan and its need for funding.  For all the past talk of health insurance becoming a beast, this item was passed over.  Given implementation of PPACA and GASB accounting requirements, employee and retiree health insurance deserves strategic prominence. 

Mayor Alvin New believes early retirees can get another job, one providing a health insurance benefit.  He thinks health insurance should be a defined contribution benefit, where the city ponies up a fixed amount per year for employee coverage.  Should costs go up significantly, employees and retirees would bear the burden, as they did in 2011.

New floated the idea of using health insurance monies for capital items in the past.  He also wanted the city's pension fund revisited.  Both health insurance and retirement are critical elements of the city's operating budget.  It will interesting discerning the city's plans in both areas.

Since neither is strategically important, how might each do their part to contribute to over $400 million in capital needs?  Employees need to pay attention.  They know what this Council did to them the last three years.  I expect Council and staff to deliver more of the same.

1 comment:

Jim Turner said...

It's interesting to watch this but we have to remember that council will change dramatically come May 11th. We will have a different Mayor. Only Silvas in SMD-3 is not up for election. SMD's 1, 2, 4, 5, and possibly 6 will have new members and a new majority. These new members are the ones that will have to approve the next budget and deal with the long term personnel issues like health care and retirement plans. This planning session is needed but will probably need major revision after the new council is sworn in.