11 thoughts on “El Cerrito overrides Financial Safeguards

  1. This should be the easiest fix to make. City administration agrees with the Auditor’s report regarding this matter.

    Therefore, City Manager should issue orders to all departments to cease sloppy accounting practices and overrides. City Council should need no vote on this direct order; something that should have already been a proper procedure.

    If nobody knows how much money is going out, we’re doomed. So fix this immediately. Get it done now!


  2. At the Tuesday, April 6th Council meeting, I submitted written public comment regarding budget overrides as alleged by the State Auditor. I urged better monitoring to ensure City departments do not spend more than allocated in a budget.

    A message from our City Manager states there are NO budget overrides. I appreciate that clarification.

    Herewith, Karen Pinkos’ comment:
    >>We DO NOT EVER override budget authority. We have followed our financial policies. The auditor team drew the wrong conclusions based on how our accounts payable staff processes invoices. I will obviously have to explain this further at the upcoming meeting, but the bottom line is that despite what the auditor implied we are not allowed to overspend our budget in each fund without Council approval, and in fact last fiscal year we spent less in the General Fund than what was authorized. <<

    She further stated the invoicing process at the City has been modified. That should eliminate any future confusion.

    NO means NO. I appreciate that direct reply from Ms. Pinkos.


    1. Hi John, Thanks for posting this. I will listen to her on video and again Saturday. That being said following their financial policies doesn’t work if the policies are flawed and I believe the auditor said the way the budgeting was done (i believe by fund not by department) was flawed and did not give enough info for council etc. And while I appreciate that you believe Ms. Pinkos some of us will believe the auditor.


    2. Well that’s very odd, because the Auditor said that this override process was explained to them by the accounting supervisor:

      “However, according to the accounting supervisor, when a department attempts to spend beyond the authorized limit, the system alerts finance department staff, who then routinely override the alert without review or approval from the finance director, thus allowing the overspending to go unquestioned and rendering such safeguards meaningless.”

      Also odd that the city’s written response to the Auditor does not challenge the Auditor’s finding, and in fact says that the city agrees with it.


  3. Expect Karen Pinkos to address this on Saturday. If you have questions, that’s when to ask them. Or, simply email the City Manager. I simply mentioned what she told me.


  4. I quoted her comment to me which mentioned Saturday. I received that by email, minutes after I sent my message.


    1. That is great. You are an important community member and member of the chamber of commerce. You get treatment the rest of us do not get.


    2. John, you hold the City Manager in high regard and frequently defend in public. Do you see anything wrong with the fact that she responds promptly to your every email and phone call, but does not respond at all to questions from members of the community who are critical of her leadership?


      1. Mike, you’re making assumptions. Here are some facts. Yes, I have the highest regard for Karen Pinkos and know she is an excellent City Manager and I support her 150%. Her job is extremely difficult, especially now. I appreciate all she does for El Cerrito.

        No, the City Manager does not respond to every email I send, and I do tend to send many to her, City Council, and some staff. Most require no reply at all. Some of my email topics are total fluff (e.g., Detroit Lions), some informational (seen about town), some serious with questions. The serious messages always get a reply. That holds true for communications with all City employees and elected individuals.

        The recent message pushing your buttons involves alleged budget overrides as mentioned by the State Auditor. I sent a comment, albeit jokingly, to our City Manager during the Council meeting referencing the override issue (which I made public comment on) and this blog. Her prompt reply to me was quite serious and I posted it here to put out her side of the story, That’s about it.

        Outside of email, which anybody can send to the City Manager, I have no contact with Ms. Pinkos at all other than an occasional hello or wave if I see her on the street. She’s busy and doesn’t need people like me bothering her.

        Plenty of vitriol is aimed her way and that’s part of having a high profile job. Nobody enjoys being a target of hate and there’s lots of that on social media. I’d assume that any lack of email replies would be because (1) she’s busy and (2) replying to people that continually criticize her is pointless. My thoughts; you’d need to ask her personally.

        So that should clear things up for you. As for Karen, excellent local government is part of her DNA and I love her passion. She is determined to fix our financial mess and I have no reason to doubt her. Consequently, I totally support her. City Council makes the decisions and the City Manager follows them. Karen will always do her best.


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