San Luis Obispo leads county in cost of government
August 28, 2012
The city of SLO leads the pack in San Luis Obispo County with the highest rate of employees per population base with 103 residents per employee among cities with population more than 11,000.
Since 2003, the city’s population has increased about 1 percent from 44,340 to 45,525 while the cost of running the city is up approximately 35 percent from $37,342,200 in 2003 to $50,482,000 today, according to the city’s financial reports.
Some $40,955,800 is for the cost of employee salaries, benefits and retirement packages.
The number of city employees was determined by the public budget process, said Michael Codron, SLO’s assistant city manager.
“City employees are dedicated to the best use of resources to fulfill identified community goals and needs,” Codron said. “According to a 2011 public opinion survey, 71 percent of city residents rate the job being done by the city in providing services as good or excellent.
Cal Poly has some impact on San Luis Obispo Financials. The campus has 7,130 students living on Campus who do not support the city through property tax revenue. And while these students purchasing increases the city’s sales tax revenue, they require a higher number of police services.
CalCoastNews’ methodology was based on the number of full-time employees with two half-time employees counted as one full-time employee. CCN focused on the general fund budget and does not include the cities’ enterprise funds or the employees who work for those departments. Enterprise fund departments, which include water, sewer, transportation and parking are completely paid for by those using the services and not through taxes or fees.
In comparison, the city of Tulare in California’s Central Valley, has 60,282 residents with 196 residents per employee and a current yearly budget of $36,875,610. A review of eight cities similar in size to San Luis Obispo provided population numbers from 147 to 198 per employee.
Population per city employee figures in San Luis Obispo County
Atascadero has a population of 28,560 with 192 residents per employee and a current yearly budget of $16,37,290.
Paso Robles has a population of 30,065 with 176 residents per employee and an operating budget of $24,454,000.
Both the cities of Grover Beach and Arroyo Grande are similar because they do not have fire departments reducing staffing needs.
Grover Beach has a population of 13,275 with 245 residents per employee.
Arroyo Grande has a population of 17,407 with 200 residents per employee.
The cities of Morro Bay and Pismo Beach have a high number of part-year residents making the number of employees per residents not comparable to other cities in the county. For example, during peak vacation times, as many as 30,000 vacationers may be staying in Pismo Beach.
Morro Bay has a population of 10,327 or 83 residents per employee and a budget of $10,322,372.
Pismo Beach has a population of 7,726 with 90 residents per employee and a budget of $15,900,000. Because it has a higher tax revenue per resident which is generated by tourism, it is the most financially fit city in the SLO County.