Pittsburg leaders say they might have to lay off workers and delay hiring police if voters don't approve an increase in local sales tax.
Since 2007, the city's revenues have dropped by about a quarter, according to City Manager Joe Sbranti.
According to his office, the city will come in about $1.25 million short for the fiscal year that begins in July unless voters approve Measure P in the June 5 election.
If approved, Measure P will increase Pittsburg's sales tax from 8.25 percent to 8.75 percent for five years, then reduce it to 8.5 percent for another five years before sunsetting and returning it to its current rate.
If the measure fails, Sbranti's office is offering the following solutions to the city council:
In recent budget workshops open to the public, the city council has expressed a reluctant acceptance of these ideas, though council members are still calling on the public
Councilman Sal Evola, however, said he thought the reductions to park patrol wouldn't be worth the money the city saves.
"What we would spend in repairing vandalism for lack of there being $10,000 in park patrol services could be much worse," Evola said.
Mayor Ben Johnson said he's counting on voters to approve the sales tax measure because, "if this does fail, we have a long way to go ... We'd have to take major, catastrophic steps to balance a budget."
In an opposing view, Pittsburg resident and former state assemblyman Joe Canciamilla said he thinks the measure presents voters with a false choice.
Hard times for the city's budget aren't going away, and will instead become worse as state and federal budget crunches trickle down to the local level, he said.
"Without serious structural changes in the ways cities operate in general," he said, "these things touted as temporary, like this tax, they'll become permanent. And as sales tax climbs toward 10 percent, people will shop more carefully."
Canciamilla said the energy going into pushing the sales tax measure would be better spent recruiting new businesses and streamlining the city's contracts and payroll.
Pittsburg is home to about 63,000 people, and its general fund budget is about $31 million.
The city has saved some money already by eliminating from the budget jobs that have gone vacant. Remaining will be about 225 positions, including a 73-officer police department, according to the city's director of finance, Tina Olson.
That comes out to about one city employee for every 280 people living in Pittsburg.
In nearby Antioch -- which has a high number of vacancies, or jobs that are approved for hire but haven't been filled -- there is about one city employee for every 420 residents. In Oakley, the ratio is about one to 490.
Contact Sean Maher at 925-779-7189. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/OneSeanMaher.