Elk Grove city council candidate Bob Felts' response to questions on financial crisis

The worldwide credit crisis looms large on the economy. As an Elk Grove city council members what contingency plans have you made/would you ...

The worldwide credit crisis looms large on the economy. As an Elk Grove city council members what contingency plans have you made/would you make to assure the city does not suffer budget deficits/financial problems from things like decreased property and sales taxes in the ensuing recession?

Felts response

The economic crisis our nation is experiencing is not just some trifle we have to contend with as we plan our future for Elk Grove. It’s huge in its effects. The problem now, as Congress grapples with their “bailout plan,” is not so much tight money, but essentially NO money, not only for Elk Grove but for the nation. Elk Grove will not operate in isolation from that fact in the immediate future.

While I basically agree with KT [city council candidate KT Khanh] on the need for a long-range plan (and we can plan for a potential program like his as one long-range option), no one seems to want to address what we do in Elk Grove for the short term. This is evidenced by the most frequent question I’ve been asked by committees: “What would you do to bring business (read jobs) to Elk Grove?”

How does one quantify this question? Business when? Right now? In 2 months? In the future? How far in the future? What about the interim, when our concentration should be to ensure we keep the businesses we have from closing their doors? Shouldn’t that logically be the first step? And it’s complicated by my not having all the facts yet to speak to the issue, because I’m not on the council.

A realistic answer, rather than one of big dreams unattainable in the present national economic environment, might be: “What can anyone do? The best have tried with no success. No candidate can wave a magic wand that will immediately cure our problems.” But this answer, of course, is not socially acceptable, because every candidate must “have a vision” for his community, and usually that “vision” has to be major and of great import.

In contrast, rather than talking about long-range visions, my first vision is this: Economic stability in hard times. Short-sighted? Maybe not. For without stability we can never have prosperity. Without stability, we’ll not have the foundation for growth. Without stability, we could end up like Vallejo.

I think the question asked of our candidates in our interviews should be: ”What will you do to ensure the survival of Elk Grove?”

Here’s my answer to that question and yours:

We all know the mistake that’s been made: We hitched our economy to the real estate market. As I’ve said so often, now we find ourselves with no industrial or firm business base. This, of course, means we have to change our direction in this city to ensure economic prosperity. KT’s dream is a potential solution, but not the only one.

Unfortunately, there is no money for this immediately, and presently, though Finance Director Becky Craig has told me the city is planning for reduced revenues, we don’t have a firm idea of how serious our economic problems are.

Due to reductions in construction, home and business related revenues (all fees & property taxes) and sales tax (forecast at 38.6% of our ’08-’09 budget), we absolutely have to tighten our belts for the immediate future. I disagree with KT, who says, “In these troubled times, we do not want government to cut cost,” because if we don’t cut costs, we’ll surely have a deficit budget.

I’m against bond measures right now, which are long-term financing and payback options in times of a stable economic environment, but which create short-term create debt load. We don’t need to assume a large debt and don’t need increasing fees imposed to pay off that debt. We can’t solve our problems by borrowing money—not yet. I’m against spending money we don’t have now, or incurring debt until our economic picture improves.

My Plan

A general summary of my process is this, and it’s not detailed. That comes after assessment.

Work for economic stability. Look freshly and candidly at our situation, ID problems, absorb public ideas and then sort, prioritize, choose and plan objectives for stability now and in the future. Basic problem solving steps will be utilized:
ID the problem
Make a plan
Execute the plan
Evaluate the plan

Start the process with our budget: examine revenues and planned expenses. Expenditures must be controlled—by cutting to match forecast revenues. Try to increase our surplus fund (hard task).

Address keeping our businesses in operation by business forums, where problems are aired (like impact fees) and potential solutions are solicited simultaneously.
Form an ad hoc committee, composed of one member each from the Planning Commission or department, the EGEDC, the Finance department, the City Council, and the EG Chamber, that interacts with local business representatives to conduct forums, coordinate our efforts & get everyone on the same track to

Examine potential solutions and Coordinate on a short term plan for economic security and a Long term plan for controlled growth.

The eventual goal (maybe in 5-10 years) should be a park (industrial, medical, research, or business) the thrust of which should be determined by the ad hoc committee and discussions with major corporations, then implemented by our major agencies under one directive (General Plan).

When our economy turns around, which it most certainly will at some point (if it doesn’t we’ll really have problems), then we have a plan ready for implementation.
Also, we need a good grant writer to explore every potential source for money, even though the national and state money shortages will bleed down to us in that area.
Here’s a summary: We must tighten our belts, not raise taxes, not give away our revenue to developers (not now), have a no-deficit strict budget, keep our debt minimal, try to build our cash reserves, plan for the present and future, implement short term strategies and plan long term strategies. While this is happening, coordinate with big businesses of a specific nature to bring us a business park or industrial area—but only when we can financially afford to revenue share and give incentives, and not before.

Bob Felts

Visit Felts' campaign website at www.bobfelts.com

Post a Comment Default Comments

Follow Us



Elk Grove News Minute

All previous Elk Grove News Minutes, interviews, and Dan Schmitt's Ya' Gotta be Schmittin' Me podcasts are now available on iTunes

Elk Grove News Podcast