By Lionel Emde, Riptide Correspondent
Pacifica City Council's agenda packet for the June 9 meeting was a long one, but if you read only one thing in it, it should be our new City Manager Lori Tinfow's budget report. In it, she details things such as:
§ Fund 25, Parking In-Lieu Fund. "This fund holds developer fees paid for meeting parking requirements in-lieu of building the actual parking required for a project. Of note here is that in November 2012, a sizable portion of the funds held ($308,000) was mistakenly included in information reported to the State of California as part of the Redevelopment Agency and transferred to the State. While unfortunate, such mistakes are not surprising given the high level of confusion for cities trying to meet changing State requirements surrounding the elimination of Redevelopment Agencies. The City will be requesting the return of the funds from the State in the next fiscal year."
And even better is the loan that time forgot: § Fund 09, Street Construction Fund. "This fund loaned approx. $2.2 million to Fund 22 in 2003. So far, staff has not discovered any repayment of the loan to date so the entire amount is shown as an “outstanding receivable” or “amount due” to the fund. Should we find evidence of any payment, an adjustment will be made."
Then there is deficit spending, which municipalities aren't supposed to engage in: § Fund 22, General Capital Improvement Fund. "In this fund, there are two items of note. First is the deficit shown at the end of each fiscal year-as of June 2014, the amount totals approx. $1.08 million. The City has been spending on projects that are not fully funded. Second, in parallel to Fund 09, the interfund loan of $2.2 million is shown here as well, as an 'outstanding loan repayment obligation.'"
I think these are the most logical questions I've heard from a public official in a long time: Fixing the Fund Deficits and Getting a Second Opinion. "A natural question after reviewing the All Funds Budget Summary (Attachment 2) and adding together the deficits would be “how did we get here?” While staff is still collecting history to better understand the answer to this question, our primary focus at this time is 'How are we going to fix this?' and the answer to this question is where I plan to focus most of my attention."
But the sum total of past fiscal mismanagement is staggering: "… the approximately $4 million total deficit shown across several funds is a problem that isn’t required to be fixed overnight. The City will continue to meet its obligations and City services will continue to be provided. …These deficits surfaced over the past few weeks in large part because of a new approach to presenting this information... As such, I have not had adequate time to fashion a complete plan to correct a problem that has likely been years in the making."
No kidding. Seven years to be precise, since our last finance director was shown the door by council, and an interim city manager going out the door. It's hard to know what went on, because apparently no one knew what they were doing. Tinfow states that she'll have to hire more outside financial help to figure out what's going on.
One of the best things council has done is to hire Tinfow as city manager. Her documents, methodology, and language are clear and straightforward. And council members should be hanging their heads in shame at what has been revealed – it's inexcusable.