El Cerrito continues to claim they have solved their financial issues. Every time something around finances comes up they are the first to pat themselves on the back and say the problem is solved. Guess what? The CA State Auditor does not agree. The new Dashboard ranking is out and while El Cerrito has improved the city is still #13 on the list of 431 cities in the state of CA. Not an auspicious performance. My guess is without the bailout monies we would still be at #6 but hey take the reserve and move us to #13.
If you go to this page you can download the raw data used. Here you can see El Cerrito’s biggest issue is its pension liability. The same liability they have refused to address these past few years. They finally had a consultant come in and say that they can start a Section 115 trust but they need to fund it with a starting minimum of 1 million dollars. Where would they get this money to fund it? There is no line item in the current budget dedicated to unfunded pension liabilities. In the multiple years, I have been following this issue the only accomplishment they have (and accomplishment is a stretch) is that they had the consultant come in and talk to them about the 115 Trust. Nothing has been done. The raw data supports this. El Cerrito is #1 (which is the WORST) for future pension liability costs. Our pension risk designation is high.
The election is coming up. There are 3 candidates for 2 positions. One of those candidates is an incumbent who has been on the council during this financial decline. Including serving as Mayor during the year we had our worst performance. Current Mayor Quinto has been part of the problem. He has refused to engage with us on these issues.
Of the two other candidates, Carolyn Wysinger appears to be running on endorsements alone. She also did not respond to our questionnaire.
Vanessa Warheit has responded to our questionnaire and appears to understand the depth of this issue.
The electorate has a chance to make a change and elect council members that address the financial issues. Any changes that have been made in the last few years have been led by Councilpersons Rudnick and Motoyama who were both new to the council last election. I wish more has been done but getting a third person who understands finance on the council can only improve the situation. Electing people that have been part of the problem continues the problem. Make an informed choice!