COACHELLA – The Coachella City Council are looking to trim their $3 million deficit by the 2009-2010 fiscal year. They presented ideas to save during a budget study session Thursday. One item they left off the budget was $32,000 for a consultant to help iron-out the differences between council members.
Absent from the meeting was Councilman Gilbert Ramirez, who clashed with Mayor Eduardo Garcia in the past. They’re relationship hit a low during an April confrontation in a parking lot near city hall.
Ramirez allegedly kicked a car the mayor and the assistant city manager were in. Ramirez says he did it because they tried to run him over. Either way, the police issued the councilman a citation. The incident inspired the move to hire the consultant.
The $32,000 paid to the consultant is roughly the salary of a city worker. Union representative George Torres questioned the council on their decision to spend money when they’re looking to cut over a dozen jobs to save money.
“We’re trying to save money and, when you see an expenditure like that, it does draw the question ‘why?’ when we’re in a deficit,” says Torres.
The mayor says the consultant will do more than just help the council play nice. He’ll help the council run more effectively.
“The idea is to really elevate the quality and level of service that’s being provided to the residents,” says Mayor Garcia. “And how it’s being conducted internally is probably how were going to best deliver that service.”
The answer was good enough for Torres. Now he’ll go to his union members to see if they agree.