While San Ramon officials are working to balance the city's budget, certain cuts are frustrating their colleagues across the city line.
During the budget review process for fiscal year 2013/14, San Ramon staff created a list of more than $5 million in potential savings and cut 32 items included in that list for savings of $890,645. Among those cuts was a $20,000 contract with Jordan Associates of Livermore, a consultant group that arranged the Tri-Valley mayors' lobbying trip to Washington every January.
City Manager Greg Rogers said that since earmarks have been eliminated from the federal budget, "the bang for the buck has changed." The City Council voted to end the contract unanimously.
"When there were earmarks, you got a bang for your buck," Rogers said, adding that the $20,000 could be used to fund other positions. "We're taking the position of what most cities do, cutting (budget items) down."
As lobbying efforts have changed from asking for earmarks to hoping for grants, it is crucial that the lobby be region-wide, said Danville Mayor Newell Arnerich. Grants are not given unless they are large enough and multiple cities are involved, he added.
"Regionally has really been key to our success with communications, transportation and veterans affairs," Arnerich said. "I hope that in the very near future San Ramon will reconsider."
San Ramon 's contract with Jordan runs through June, and the dissolution may effect Danville which, along with Livermore, Pleasanton and Dublin, may be forced to absorb $5,000 to keep the contract.
"Livermore and Dublin mayors have been fairly direct with (San Ramon Mayor Bill) Clarkson in expressing the same sentiments and I did," said Danville Town Manager Joe Calabrigo. "You don't create this hole in the middle of the Tri-Valley for the purposes of this effort and assume the remainder of the delegation will continue their efforts and say this applies to this one city, which isn't participating."
Councilmember Karen Stepper said Danville should write to San Ramon officials, noting her frustration that the town's southern neighbor would be included in lobbying efforts because of its proximity to contracted municipalities.
"I think we need to individually talk to all couincilmembers. The value that we've done and funding we've gotten over the years from this has served us well and is a good investment. I think we each need to show the value of being part of regionalism with San Ramon," said Arnerich.
Arnerich added that three of San Ramon's five councilmembers, including the mayor, are new to the Council and haven't seen the impact of federal lobbying.
"One of the advantages of having rotating mayors is we all understand the value of this. We need to articulate those messages, too," he said.
Still, Greg Rogers said he believes it makes more sense for cities to pay for a state lobbyist. Even then, state lobbying was eliminated as cities dropped out of a consortium over recent years.
"We're still going to be doing some dwindling to our reserves this year," Rogers noted of the budget.
San Ramon will host a public budget workshop at 5 p.m. on Monday, May 13 at council chambers (2222 Camino Ramon). Public study sessions on Danville's budget are scheduled for May 14 and May 21 at 8:30 a.m. at the town offices (510 La Gonda Way) and and public hearing to consider adoption is scheduled for June 4 at 7:30 p.m.