Barbara Wilson, Dana Point
Jay Sowell’s April 14 letter comes at a very important time, with two crucial events about to occur that will affect the economic health of our city.
The city’s two-year budget is to be adopted in June and a new city manager will soon be hired.
Residents should be very concerned about how our current acting city manager/CFO has signed off on consecutive annual deficits. For most of the last several years, operating and capital expenditures consistently exceeded revenues. Our CFO is projecting sufficient funding for only essential capital expenses for this fiscal year. The question is whether past overspending will make it impossible to pay for other important capital projects such as parking solutions for the Lantern District, park improvements and Doheny Village upgrades.
Mayor Pro Tem Paul Wyatt presented an analysis of two similar cities and found that our expenditures far outpaced theirs in every department during the April 18 City Council meeting. At that same meeting, a member of the Finance Review Committee (FRC) tried to warn the Council of the financial challenges posed by deficit spending and dwindling spendable cash. Councilmen Muller, Viczorek and Tomlinson, rather than thanking her for the information, spent an inordinate amount of time discussing whether her appearance would violate the Brown Act. (The city attorney agreed that it was not an issue since it was a publicly noticed meeting.)
Are we falling into the same dilemma as in the story of the “Emperor with No Clothes?” His subjects are afraid to tell him the truth, so he can continue believing he has a magnificent wardrobe.
These same three Councilmen have stymied Mayor Debra Lewis’ and Wyatt’s efforts to join a taskforce with neighboring cities to share ideas as to how to reduce expenses and solve common problems. If information is empowerment, why are these Council members satisfied with the status quo?
I urge all who care about the financial wellbeing of our city to write to Council members, to attend Council and FRC meetings (or view online), so you can be aware of the issues at stake.
The elephant in the room is that we have serious financial issues. Instead of working on solutions, our three legacy Councilmen do all they can to ignore it. We also need a new city manager who will bring fresh thinking and new policies to our city and overcome the missteps of his predecessors.
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