An actuary on Tuesday painted an improving picture of Rohnert Park’s financial ability to continue providing medical benefits for retired employees. The city’s unfunded liability has been cut from $53.2 million in February 2011 to $40.7 million now. The unfunded liability is the difference between what the city owes for future medical benefits for retired and existing employees and what it has paid into a trust fund run by the state public employees’ retirement system, CalPERS.
Rohnert Park councilmembers Tuesday unanimously approved a $22 million budget. The 2012-2013 budget projects a $2.5 million deficit but City Manager Gabe Gonzalez said the city has the cash to cover the shortage.
The head of the Indian tribe that plans to build a Las Vegas-style casino outside Rohnert Park said Tuesday its agreement with the state allowing the project to start will be good in a ‘new and novel way’ for all involved, including the larger North Bay community. ‘We created something that will indeed benefit Indian and non-Indian alike,’ said Greg Sarris, chairman of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, during a three-hour state Senate committee meeting.
Rohnert Park officials are gingerly exploring the idea of asking voters to extend a temporary sales tax that has been critical to restoring the city’s finances. Rohnert Park residents approved Measure E — a five-year, half-cent tax — in 2010. It took full effect this year and is projected to bring in $2.4 million. It has helped draw down the city’s deficit to $330,000 from $2 million last year.
Rohnert Park will finish the second half of the fiscal year in far better fiscal condition than it started, the city’s mid-year budget shows. A projected $2 million deficit has been cut to $333,000 since July, a change due almost entirely to new sales tax revenue and employee wage and benefit concessions.
The abrupt retirement this week of Rohnert Park’s longtime finance director marks the latest development in a messy City Hall conflict that broke wide open this summer. Sandy Lipitz on Thursday confirmed she told City Manager Gabe Gonzalez on Tuesday that she was retiring immediately. She declined further comment.
Officials in Sonoma County struggled Thursday to gauge the local impact of a state Supreme Court ruling that upheld the state’s elimination of redevelopment agencies. Uncertainty remained about the ruling’s implications, especially to redevelopment projects already under way.
A little-known perk termed ‘administrative leave’ amounts to a guaranteed cash bonus or extra vacation for some upper-level government administrators and elected officials in Sonoma County.
In July, as five months of contentious contract negotiations came to a close, Rohnert Park employee union leaders complained publicly that the city’s managers weren’t being asked to shoulder an equal share of concessions to help fill the budget deficit. Angered, City Manager Gabe Gonzalez fired back in an email to all city employees.
Attorneys for Rohnert Park plan to present a severance package to Finance Director Sandy Lipitz, who has been criticized by the city manager.