The candidates propose various solutions to the budget crisis. We do need creative and realistic solutions but cutting future pensions for our police and firefighters is a very bad idea. They are our first responders that we will need in our neighborhoods during a future era of climate chaos and many already choose to live outside Santa Barbara because of the cost of living here. We need to be more creative than that! Converting part of the pensions in the future to a cost of living allowance for living within the Santa Barbara city limits would serve two purposes. It would, in effect, reduce the pensions for those who may not be available for duty in the future and provide those who would the resources they need to live here. I remember when roads were washed out in a winter storm and you could not get from LAX to Santa Barbara. This is likely to happen again.
Another creative solution to our budget shortfall is to get the federal government out of our city wallet. Unfunded federal mandates currently cost the city many millions of taxpayer dollars. For instance, when city police or firefighters who are members of the guard or reserves are deployed, the city must provide their local replacement, provide pension contribution for all time served under federal command, and also pays the difference between their pay in the military and what they would have received as a city employee. This applies to all city employees but is most costly for cops and firefighters. Several cities, counties and states are contemplating legal action to require the federal government to compensate the communities for this “taking” of resources. I would ask the city attorney and council to get on this band wagon.