OpEd | City Budget Problems: A Response to City Council

Video Screen Capture from South Pasadena City Council Meeting June 7, 2023 | SP Finance Commissioner Vice Chair Sheila Rossi being verbally updated by Mayor Primuth that her finance presentation Q&A will actually be in the form of a 3 minute public comment.

South Pasadena Resident Mr. Bray Addressing City Council & City Hall staff in writing about the budget information, logic, and pathway to resolution: 

I can be talked out of this, but doesn’t “a bizarre $1.6 million bill from the city’s insurance pool for claims incurred between 1997 and 2014” seem like another failure of the city’s outgoing law firm? This development demands a much more explicit discussion.

Second, it seems to me that the missing piece of this discussion is the extraordinary degree to which the city has asked for extra revenue, and taxpayers have repeatedly agreed to the request. After Measure A and Measure U, with an extra city sales tax and an extended utility tax bringing in extra money, and a library parcel tax, and the 2019 fee study that sharply raised city fees, pricing some community organizations out of city facilities….the city can’t pay for basic services?\
There’s hesitancy about filling police department vacancies, because we’re not sure we can afford it? Where is all the extra tax and fee revenue going? It looks from here like no amount of funding can stabilize city finances, which means that the problem isn’t on the revenue side. 
Third, the article on the budget debate in the South Pasadenan says that the city has been without a regular finance director for three years, but the last two “regular” finance directors lasted five months (with three months on leave) and eleven months. The last regular finance director of long service left in 2018. There hasn’t really been anyone steadily at the helm for five years. 
And finally, if the city was surprised by $800,000 in old unpaid invoices, then surprised by $1.6 million in sudden demands from the risk pool over very old claims, how likely is it that the surprises have stopped, and no more are coming?
What’s the path to stability?
~Chris Bray


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