South Pasadena Budget Process Reform

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Discrepancies found by former City of South Pasadena Finance Director Josh Betta in a critical examination of South Pasadena's financial management require a time-out in the city's rush to adopt a 2020-21 budget. Betta's report finds some $4.5 million of unexplained variances in fund balances presented in the budget from the last available city financial audit. Moreover, there is no explanation of how pension contributions and collective bargaining agreements impact planned spending increases, particularly for the police department.

Accordingly, we call on the city council to adopt a temporary resolution of continuing appropriations for the city to redo the proposed budget after a city financial audit, now months overdue, is completed and presented to the community.

In addition, we call for the budget to include full documentation of what are now single digit revenue shortfall projections that vary significantly with the recent Southern California Association of Governments' outlook for how the pandemic will affect local government revenues.  SCAG's professional economists project substantially greater revenue shortfalls.

Accordingly, we also call on the city council to direct city staff to redo the budget to eliminate discrepancies and provide better documentation of fund balances, planned expenditures, and anticipated revenue and give the public more time to participate in the budget process in a more meaningful manner.