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The Manzanita City Council homepage prominently announces its commitment in conducting City business to “inform and actively engage residents, second homeowners and businesses in identification of and solutions to community issues. The Council invites and encourages citizen involvement in the development of City programs and services.”

Having been encouraged by the Council to become informed and involved in the important issues of how the City develops its Budget, I carefully examined the FCS Indirect Cost allocation Study that the Council has relied upon to move $213,000 out of City Water Funds for City Hall staff services for the next Fiscal Year Budget now under discussion.

I noted a small footnote at the bottom of page 6 of the FCS study that stated “FTE (Full Time Equivalent) support for the Parks Department, Roads Fund and Water Operating Fund is provided by the Public Works Department and are based on detailed employee timesheet records for the 2021 calendar year.”

Apparently our Public Works employees do take the time to document how they spend their day working in their three different areas of responsibility resulting in a very accurate accounting of their time for Budgeting purposes. We are told that City Hall staff can’t be bothered to fill out a similar timesheet to record just the one activity of time they spend daily assisting the Public Works Director manage the water utility. Why use a simple and direct approach to gather the information you are interested in like other City employees have to do when you can hire a consultant for $30,000 to create a complex model to get you an answer more to your liking?

Wanting to make sure that I fully understood how the FCS Study came to its indirect cost conclusions, I made a public records request for a blank timesheet that our utility workers fill out to document how they spend their time in maintaining our streets, parks and water system. I was informed that this request would require one hour of a City Hall staffers time and a charge of $43.07.

Thinking that there must be some misunderstanding of my request, I clarified that I only wanted to see a copy of a blank timesheet that apparently is readily available and in regular use by Public Works employees. Sorry, 1 hour of staff time and $43.07 payment to get a copy of a blank timesheet.

Maybe the City should rewrite its invitation to the public by saying it encourages citizens to become informed and involved in these important issues, but if you need information other than what we want you to know, be prepared to open your checkbook.

Public Hearing on next year’s Budget is May 18th at 6 pm. Come ask your questions, there’s no charge.