Make no mistake about it – the City of Santa Ana is flat broke. “City departments from police to parks have once again begun searching their budgets for places to cut as the city stares down a shortfall of as much as $25 million,” according to the O.C. Register.
With that in mind, I met today with Gerardo Mouet, the Director of Santa Ana’s Parks, Recreation and Community Servces Agency, which includes the Santa Ana Zoo and the Santa Ana Public Library. We met to discuss my proposal for a dog park at Santiago Park, but ended up talking about a wide range of issues.
First the good news. Mouet is a very creative administrator, with many years of experience at City Hall. He even served as a deputy to City Manager Dave Ream. So Mouet is not without resources and he has done a lot to improve service to our residents even as he as slashed his agency’s budget to the bone.
Now the bad news. Mouet’s department is down to 77 full time employees. In the year 2004, his department had 142 full time employees! What this means is that his department spends $49 per capita, while cities of comparable size, such as Oakland, spend anywhere from $68 to $102 per capita. And Oakland still employs 204 full time workers in their parks and recreation department. Continue reading