By Daniel Ritz & Rachael Mattice
In lieu of Toni Nelson’s resignation, Mayor Debra Lewis has appointed Joseph Jaeger as the newest member of the Financial Review Committee (FRC) at the Oct. 3 City Council meeting.
Jaeger was considered for this position based on his initial interests to assist the city staff manage city finances, an interest he expressed to the mayor prior to the committee’s official formation.
In an email correspondence, the mayor said at the time of Jaeger’s initial interest, she was impressed with his skill set, but had already made her selection for the newly formed Financial Review Committee and would keep him in mind for future openings.
The FRC’s clear mandate is to recommend financial policies to City Council, and Jaeger said he is excited about his role as a member of the FRC in order to help the community that he loves.
Jaeger, a Dana Point resident since 2011, is a retired financial professional who most recently served as the chief operating officer for Pacific World Corporation in Aliso Viejo. In this role, he oversaw and was responsible for finance, accounting, treasury, information technology, human resources, manufacturing, distribution, risk management and a variety of legal manners. Jaeger was also the chief financial officer for a publicly held company, playing a leadership role at Physicians Formula.
Mayor Lewis also said when she and Jaeger met prior to the formation of the FRC, they discussed her concerns about the city’s looming budget deficit.
“Having worked through the Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFR) over the previous two years with Toni Nelson, she had convinced me Dana Point was headed for fiscal trouble if we didn’t make some budgetary changes,” Lewis said. “My meeting with Joe was before the city acknowledged the looming budget deficit of nearly $2 million in 2020.”
Avoiding this potential budget deficit is Jaeger’s first priority.
“First and foremost, if I were to outline my financial views on the city, it starts with looking forward at years like 2020,” Jaeger said. “We are deficit spending and looking at potentially running through the city’s reserves. We need to address this now, before it truly becomes an issue.”
To avoid running through the city’s reserves, Jaeger said the city needs to increase its revenue and decrease its costs, citing the results of the recently released Wohlford Consulting Cost of Services Study which shows a current overall annual subsidy of over $2,250,000 from the general fund for fee-related services.
“If we address this now, at the end of this next economic cycle, we hope that the city has adequate resources,” Jaeger said.
He also voiced the city of Dana Point’s transient occupancy tax (TOT) rate as another one of his main concerns. This has been a topic of discussion in both City Council and Financial Review Committee meetings. At 10 percent, Dana Point’s TOT is less than surrounding cities such as Laguna Beach, and city staff have been asked to conduct further research on the topic.
In addition, Jaeger also said that he is ready to make improvements in the way the city releases its financial information.
Jaeger will be officially chaired as a member of the Financial Review Committee at their next meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 24, at 4 p.m. in council’s chambers within City Hall, located at 33282 Golden Lantern, Suite 210, Dana Point.