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By Brian Hews
Cerritos Councilwoman Carol Chen along with Mayor pro tem Naresh Solanki led a major push to close the Cerritos Sheriff’s station at a contentious June council meeting. Now the two, in separate letters, are walking back their controversial statements with sources telling Hews Media Group-Community News that the two “got an earful” from concerned residents after reading the article in Los Cerritos Community News.
Last week, HMG-CN published a letter from Mayor George Ray, who, along with Councilmen Mark Pulido and Jim Edwards, became incensed when Chen and Solanki abruptly, without notice or the item being placed on the agenda, attempted to close the Sheriff’s Station.
Ray made a point in the letter that safety is the main concern trying to allay the concerns of residents after Chen and Solanki’s statements.
The city is facing a $6.6 million deficit for 2016-17 budget and it was agreed to in a prior council meeting, on a vote of 5-0, to approve the budget and then direct staff to analyze areas where they could cut expenses.
The Sheriff’s station was never on the radar until Chen and Solanki, in violation of Roberts Rules of Order that govern council meetings, as well as ignoring public input, attempted to place the Sheriff’s station to a vote instead of “agendizing” the item for a later meeting.
Now the two are walking back their statements in an attempt to placate angry residents.
HMG-CN obtained a private email, that was not sent to HMG-CN, written by Carol Chen contradicting her statement at the June meeting that said:
As you may or may not know, the City is facing budget deficit of approximately $6.5 million in the 2016-17 fiscal year. This is a situation that the City has faced since the onset of the economic recession in 2008 and was exacerbated by the dissolution of redevelopment in California beginning in 2011. The loss of redevelopment alone cost the City approximately $30 million in annual tax increment revenue, eliminated over $4 million in staff time reimbursement and caused the City to assume responsibility for obligations of the former redevelopment agency in excess of $800K annually.
In addition to theses significant losses, the City has had to contend with the continued and unabated escalation in prices for everything from contact labor (including the Sheriff’s contract) and insurance costs to costs for the acquisition of the goods and materials that the City relies upon to support our daily operations. Through these challenges, the City has committed to maintain service and programming levels while struggling to identify a means to offset the losses brought about by the dissolution of redevelopment.
We have reached a point where the existing budget deficit is no longer sustainable and continued operation of the City on a deficit position compromises the long-term financial health of the City. In addition, the deficit placed the City in a position where it must defer critical infrastructure maintenance projects-projects that are necessary for the City to be able to continue to maintain basic fundamental service levels, such as regular scheduled tree trimming, sidewalk and street replacement.
The City Council is committed to addressing the issue and once again place the City on solid financial footing. As part of that commitment, the City Council will be completing a thorough review of all expenses within the budget in an effort to identify areas in which adjustments can be made to resolve the deficit. The review will also include a study of potential options to generate additional revenue. This review will begin at the City Council meeting of August 25. I invite you to attend and provide the Council with your input in person or email/call me with your comments and suggestions.
Please be assured, there have been no reductions or modifications to any of the existing services or program levels within the 2016-2017 budget. Further, no changes will be made without the opportunity for residents and businesses to provide significant input on any proposal. The City Council relies upon your input and input of all Cerritos citizens to help guide the difficult decisions that need to be made in order to address the budget condition that we currently face.
Solanki released a letter that contradicted his statement at the June meeting stating:
Cerritos Mayor George Ray recently penned an article regarding the importance of public safety and law enforcement in our City. I would like to voice my strong support of the Mayor’s sentiments and reiterate how safety is given a top priority in Cerritos on an annual basis. I am grateful to our residents, Cerritos Sheriff’s Station, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s personnel and the City for their efforts to work together to ensure the protection of our community and to make it an exceptional place to live. Nothing is more important to our continuing quality of life than public safety.
Through the City’s outstanding level of police services, comprehensive law enforcement programs, Neighborhood Watch program, Virtual Block Club, Safer Cerritos website, Volunteers on Patrol and more, safety will continue to be considered an item of highest importance in Cerritos.
I want our residents and community members to rest assured that I will always give total consideration to the safety of our community. Please feel free to contact me at City Hall at (562) 860-0311 or send me an e-mail through the City’s website at cerritos.us at any time with your questions or comments. I look forward to working with our community to keep our City safe and to make it even safer well into the future.
Mayor Pro Tem
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