In November 2018, the independent auditor expressed the going concern statement for the second year in a row. It appears in the CAFR. In the June 4, 2019, meeting the city finance director expressed the view things were improving and the going concern statement would likely go away. This was backed up by Karen. When asked if he felt better, the finance director said something like “considerably so”.
Below are more verbatim quotes take from the video. The video of that meeting is found here. The budget information starts at 2:59 in the video. The packet is found here. Pages 47-110 are very detailed budget documents. At the very end of the packet (no page numbers are available is Karen Pinkos’s presentation on the budget.
Karen started out with the presentation at around 2:59.
Karen: “We are being cautious and conservative”
3:10 Karen reiterated the effort of Mark and her to be conservative and not spend money that has not been received. “We are trying to be as prudent as possible”.
We are seeking to increase the fund balance reserve.
3:15 Karen: “I would like to thank all of our staff, especially the department directors for being fiscally responsible… I would like to give special thanks to Mark Rasiah.” He has been great in making sure that we have been keeping to our fiscal discipline…. We are wanting to make sure we are as fiscally prudent as possible.
3:22 Paul: “I am wanting to make sure you are liking the two year budget effort”
3:28 Mark Rasiah: “We have proved him wrong (independent auditor). So I think the going concern concept will be removed at the end of fiscal 19.
3:29 “So you feel better?” Mark: “Substantially so.”
3:30 Greg: “It’s nice to see you smiling because that means we should worry less.”
At the next meeting, the council raised the wages of management. Not until January 2020 did staff disclose to council and the public that there was a $2.9 million cost overrun and that the going concern statement appeared for a third year in a row.
The question then becomes whose responsibility is this. The council was being told that everything was okay in June 2019 and just four months later El Cerrito was named the #7 city at risk of bankruptcy in the state of California.
For reference here is a copy of the City Managers contract
She receives a base salary of $19,166.67 a month. She is eligible for whatever COLA un-represented employees make July of every year. If there was satisfactory performance the first pay period of January 2020 she was eligible for up to a 4% increase. The same for January 2021. The contract ends December 31, 2021. She receives the same employee benefits and makes the same contributions (amount not currently known) that all un-represented employees make. She gets vacation and sick time on the same basis. She also gets 75 hours a year of administrative leave. She receives $350 a month as a car allowance. The city pays for her travel and expenses doing professionally related things such as conferences. If she joins local clubs etc the city will pay the membership.
I was unable at the time of this writing to see the contract of the Finance Director. I will be making a public records request for that information. What I did find was this chart of employee salaries. The chart below shows a range of salaries for the Finance Director.
Update on Finance Diirector’s Salary 2/10/2020.
Here is the page that covers that.