At Wednesday night's Town Council meeting, the Town Council approved a DECLARATION OF FISCAL EMERGENCY and approved the 2017-2018 Budget.
The emergency declaration comes 2 weeks after giving staff 6% pay raises, a brand new $5,000 bonus plan and $500 car allowances.
As if that alone isn't perplexing enough, the declaration of fiscal emergency (the discussion for which lasted only 20 minutes) was immediately preceded by an hourlong debate - with Mayor Onoda the primary advocate - to create a Moraga-exclusive Town Poet Laureate position despite Orinda and Lafayette inviting Moraga to participate in their joint program at no cost.
No strategy or plan was provided to explain how the Town Council intends to fix the FISCAL EMERGENCY. Our analysis indicates the MORAGA DECLARATION OF FISCAL EMERGENCY is precipitated by cumulative Town Council spending decisions, led by long-serving incumbents over many years and is not the direct result of the Sinkhole or Canyon Bridge as the narrative may state.
The stated purpose of the DECLARATION OF FISCAL EMERGENCY is to allow the Town Council to 1) call for a Special Election and 2) allows for the passage of a tax increase with only >50% vote instead of the 66% required under the State Constitution.
Further, the approved Budget reflects reducing Operating Expenses by ONLY 1% from an earlier draft and a Surplus of ONLY one-half of one percent (.05%). Meanwhile, the 6% pay raises to staff approved two weeks ago, according to new Budget, consumes most of the projected property tax and sales tax revenue increases over the next two years. This means most of the anticipated tax revenue increase is already committed to pay compensation expenses, virtually guaranteeing no increases in Surplus and no revenue to re-build reserves.