By Debra Lewis
On Jan. 17 of this year, the City Council revamped the Financial Review Committee (FRC). This action constitutes an important component of an open, transparent government that embraces ongoing Dana Point resident participation and input.
As a member of the City Council, I will make many decisions that impact the city’s short- and long-term financial health. To do so responsibly, I want to fully understand our budget and be able to answer some basic questions. What is the city’s projected income for the next few years? What if something unexpected happens, and are we adequately prepared to deal with it? Do we have sufficient savings? How do budgeted figures compare with actual revenue/spending? How does an item affect the budget?
- Does Dana Point already have a Financial Review Committee?
Yes, we had a committee called the Financial Review Committee. Its limited task was to review and approve the extremely narrow investment options available to public entities.
- What is the FRC’s newly revamped purpose?
Now, the FRC’s purpose has been substantially broadened as an oversight body. The FRC will review and analyze the entire city’s financial information in order to assist the Council in making fiscally responsible decisions. Financial reporting and policy changes may be suggested to Council to support the FRC’s mission.
- Why did I ask for this change?
I am trying to accomplish two things. First, I want residents to be a more integral part of city government. I can think of no place where public engagement is more important than in spending the taxpayer’s money. Resident oversight of public spending implements a healthy check and balance.
Second, I am not an accountant. As a small business owner for many years and former business attorney, I have a basic understanding of budgets and financials. But I look to those more skillful who can dig into the weeds and provide me with clear and accurate information in a form that both I and the residents can easily understand and digest. It seems only natural to utilize the expertise of the many Dana Point residents for that guidance.
- How many members are on the Committee?
- How are they chosen?
Each Council member selects his/her own FRC member. The FRC member selection does not require Council approval. However, understanding the committee’s purpose, each Council member is encouraged to choose an FRC member with the proper background, experience and willingness to make the time commitment.
- How long is an FRC member’s term?
Each FRC member serves at the pleasure of the appointing Council member, but no longer than that Council member’s term on the Council.
- How often will the FRC meet?
The FRC will choose a standing monthly meeting date and time. If four FRC members agree, it can meet less often, but at least once each quarter. The first meeting is scheduled for Feb. 27.
I am very excited by this change and see it as a way to help the Council and residents gain a clearer understanding of where our money comes from and how effectively it is being spent.