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Vote Bill Wolpert - October 26 Email

Subject: What Happened to the Municipal Coffers?

My name is Bill Wolpert.  I'm running for Petaluma City Council.  This is another installment in my continuing conversation with the voters of Petaluma.

There are many issues being discussed during this City Council race.  How to fund the Rainier Connector.  How to restore a full complement of police officers.  How to build a new fire station.  How to provide more services to the homeless.  How to maintain our streets.

Each is a great question.  Each spotlights real needs in our community.  Each also has something in common with the others.  They need dollars.  Dollars that our city doesn’t have to spend.

Ten years ago, we were sinking into the worst recession in most of our lifetimes.  In City Hall, belts were tightened, hard decisions were made, and the City survived.  An essential element of that survival was a solid reserve fund that provided a cushion as municipal revenues declined precipitously.

Today, the reserve fund hasn’t been replenished.  It’s bouncing along at an uncomfortably low level.  If another recession happens tomorrow, we don’t have a buffer.

Even worse, we have a huge and growing mound of debt.  One of my opponents estimated that Petaluma has $180 million of deferred street maintenance.  And the unfunded pension obligation is estimated at $70 million.  That’s a quarter billion dollars of debt.  Billion with a “b”.  We should be terrified by that number.

Petaluma isn’t alone in this predicament.  Many American cities are facing similar challenges.  The American style of land use often requires more city dollars to sustain it than it generates in tax dollars.

Luckily, we had people here in Petaluma who recognized the trap and began advocating for a more sustainable financial model.  Evidence of their efforts is in the Central Petaluma Specific Plan and the General Plan.

Unluckily, we have leadership that has failed to implement the ideas that were set forth. Instead, they have continued to allow development that does too little to restore our municipal coffers. We will never afford our goals or even maintain the city we have until we stop catering to unsustainable development.

We cannot expect a better outcome with the same leaders who brought us here. My opponents have a combined twenty-six years in office.  Twenty-six years is long enough.  Unless you want a string of new taxes to keep our town afloat, it’s time to bring in leadership that will follow the good guidelines we already have in place.  I want the new leadership to begin with me.

I've been sharing what I think about the present and future of Petaluma.  But I also want to know what you think.  You can reply to this email, send me a message from my website, or talk to me at one of the events listed on my website.  I care about your opinions.

Bill Wolpert

Candidate, Petaluma City Council

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Bill Wolpert for Petaluma City Council
40 Fourth St., Box 278
Petaluma, CA 94952
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