Palm Springs is in a fiscal crisis. No one can deny that. There is going to be some belt tightening with the city budget, but savings and budget cuts need to be done in a smart way.
Cuts to public safety may seem like an easy solution. After all, public safety amounts to about half the Palm Springs budget. That is a lot. But, not only are the Palm Springs police, fire and emergency medical services critical to maintaining the quality of life in our community, they are essential to maintaining our tourism economy and the safety and security of our guests.
City leaders have been prudent about following State and County COVID-19 mandates and cautious about allowing Palm Springs businesses and attractions to reopen. These State, County and City actions have restricted our local economy and turned off so many of our City revenues.
There are some important steps City leaders may take to mitigate its budget shortfalls.
The city of Palm Springs owns land – over $30 million worth that was recently accepted in an exchange with Grit Development. Turning those non-revenue generating assets into needed cash will go a long way to help fund important public safety personnel now and save the city money in the future.
Cutting essential public safety personnel is a false savings. It costs $45,000 alone to train a new sworn Police Recruit. That is $45,000 our community has already invested in public safety. The fact is public safety personnel, laid off from Palm Springs service, will be recruited by other cities and our training investment will be lost.
We all agree that Palm Springs needs adequate levels public safety. But Palm Springs has some special challenges. Police, fire emergency medical services, planned to manage our fluctuating peak demands, are essential to supporting our tourism economy – the economic engine of Palm Springs.
Palm Springs has a decision to make and the choice is clear.
The city-owned land parcels can go a long way to shoring up our budget crisis. We should not trade vacant land, and empty infill residential lots for reduced public safety.
Palm Springs voters have repeatedly expressed at the ballot box how important police and fire services are for the quality of life and the health of our community.
It is time for the Palm Springs City Council and city leaders to echo that support. Contact them at:
- Poa-graphic: POA
- crime scene: Pixaby