WatchSonoma Watch
Budget brouhaha in Healdsburg

Healdsburg Mayor Gary Plass and fellow Councilman Tom Chambers are on the defensive, sending out a public letter detailing the cost savings the city has achieved over the past several years. The unusual move was in response to a commentary in the local paper signed by two former mayors and two other prominent citizens who said the City Council doesn’t appear to feel the same sense of urgency in addressing ‘a financial crisis at hand.’

Santa Rosa panel recommends softening arbitration language

Santa Rosa’s police and firefighters deserve to have contract disputes settled by a third party, as long as the city can truly afford it. That was the determination Thursday of the panel exploring changes to the city’s by laws, which since 1996 have required public safety contract disputes to be settled by a panel of three arbitrators. The 21-member Charter Review Committee felt tweaking the arbitration process would be better than scrapping it altogether.

Judging Santa Rosa’s anti-gang efforts

Since 2004, when Santa Rosa voters approved Measure O, taxpayers have spent more than $7 million on gang prevention and intervention programs. To ensure the programs were effective, the city’s gang-prevention officials vowed to work with the Santa Rosa Police Department to closely track gang crime statistics in the city. Seven years into the program, that hasn’t happened.

UPDATED: Repealing binding arbitration: Palo Alto goes first

Among the smattering of ballot measures going to voters on Tuesday, keep an eye on Measure D in Palo Alto. Santa Rosa could be voting on something similar next year.

Rohnert Park struggles to save public safety

Rohnert Park’s public safety chief expressed strong opposition Tuesday to contracting out police and fire services.

New sales tax at heart of Santa Rosa budget debate

Santa Rosa voters last fall passed a quarter-percent sales tax to protect “vital city services” from being gutted. In just over a week, they’ll see if they’re getting what they paid for. The budget debate gripping City Hall for the past several weeks culminates with three days of hearings beginning June 14 that will determine how the $6.5 million in new sales taxes will be spent.

Welcome to the City of Roses, police and fire service … and not much else

Between 1995 and 2008, police and fire department spending, as a share of Santa Rosa’s general fund, grew from 43.9 percent to 55.1 percent, a 25 percent increase. What’s happened since? Read on.

Rohnert Park considers outsourcing police service

Rohnert Park officials have asked the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office how much it would cost to take over the city’s police services. The inquiry, which has upset many in police ranks, is part of an investigation into achieving savings by contracting out any number of city services,

Santa Rosa faces $100 million pension shortage

Santa Rosa’s pension task force kicked off its work Tuesday with a sobering revelation that the city’s pension obligation is underfunded by $100 million. The figure underscores the scale of the financial challenge facing the city and the tall order before the task force as it grapples with ways to fix the system. “We’re not going to solve the problem in six meetings,” chairman Scott Bartley said.

How much do they make?

A new database reveals how much money was paid to each of the 8,618 city and county workers in Sonoma County last year, ranging from a lifeguard in Rohnert Park to the county’s top administrator. Nearly 1,200 city and county workers in Sonoma County earned more than $100,000, a plateau that is reached by a higher percentage of workers in the public sector than their counterparts in the private sector. Find out how much workers in your town earn.

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