Petrone: SJC can afford a downtown plaza

 

Bill Petrone, Field Director of SEIU, the county’s largest public employee union, writes:

“I also believe that historical and also social areas in the city should be preserved/saved. I was shocked to read the comments attributed to the San Joaquin Board of Supervisors/San Joaquin County Government when they said that they don’t have money to either move the square or rebuild in another area. 

“If you would look at the BOS meeting of March 11, 2014, there is an agenda item titled 2013-2014 Mid Year budget report. The document is dated March 5, 2014.  In the document, the County cites the following budgetary reserves:

1. Reserve for Contingencies: Over $25 million

2. Health Care reserve (for their self funded plan): The County’s actuary, AON states that they should have about $11 to $12 million. The County currently has over $30 million in this fund.

3. Dental claims surplus: Industry standard is 4.5 months worth of claims, the County has 7.5 months of claims in reserves (they did not put a number to it)

4. Unemployment Insurance reserves: $2.2 million over what the cost is.

5. Casualty Insurance: $8.1 million dollar surplus

6. Medical Malpractice: $6.7 million dollar funding surplus

7. Workers Compensation: $14.9 million dollar funding surplus.

“Unlike grants or state or federal funding, this is not earmarked dollars that are pigeonholed on where they can be spent. My belief is that these are/were General Fund dollars (and to a smaller extent for the Health care and dental, employees premiums) that are being ratholed away, for whatever the reason.

“I wholeheartedly believe that the citizens and taxpayers (and they are not the same) need to know this. This is money that could fund new programs, hire more employees to serve the public (Ask a Human Services Eligibility Worker what their case load is and then hunker down for the rant about how high and unworkable it is) or (gasp) lower taxes. This could also be used to improve the community, such as replacing Hunter Square, or improving other areas.”

I thank Petrone for his savvy fiscal watchdogging. The county’s plan to eliminate the city’s historic public square, and its claim it cannot afford to replace it, deserves exactly this sort of sketicism.

–Photo by Calixtro Romias

 

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    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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