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Financial report: SLO council doesn't want to hear it 

The San Luis Obispo City Council turned down the chance to hear a presentation about the results of the city manager’s Fiscal Sustainability Task Force.

The suggestion was voted away 3-2, with Mayor Jan Marx, Vice-Mayor John Ashbaugh, and Kathy Smith voting against and Andrew Carter and Dan Carpenter voting for the idea

“I think this would only add to my ability to make wise decisions,” Carpenter said. “I think it would help inform the public.”

The request to have the City Council look at the task force’s results was suggested by Carter at the end of the Jan. 6 council meeting. Marx, who said the report was created for the benefit of the city manager and not the council, opposed his suggestion. The material is already available on the city website for the public and city council to look at, she added.

Katie Lichtig, the city manager, sent a memo before the meeting to remind the council the taskforce was created to advise her and not the council.

“Since I have an obligation, as articulated in the Charter, to present a balanced financial plan, it seems most appropriate for the report to come to me to filter through the recommendations and bring that plan to you in May,” Lichtig wrote in the memo.

Carter said that since there were some direct suggestions to the City Council in the task force report, it should be presented to the council and the public.

Matt Blackstone, head of the city police union, was given special time to speak on the subject after the council made its decision. He commended the council on its decision.

The task force recommendations have created a stir among some city staffers. The report suggests binding arbitration be put back on the ballot and staff compensation, which is currently 80 percent of the budget, be reduced. The report says if present trends in city finances don’t change, in four years, city government would exist solely to pay for compensation of city staff. The report goes on to suggest pursuing a two-tier pension system to reduce long-term financial drains. It also recommends reducing employee health-care benefits and finding new ways of reducing overtime costs.

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