Press Release Gone Bad

Last week, the Council Members posted on social media.  Then the City of El Cerrito issued a press release claiming victory over the financial crisis.  

Super Premature

Still, the State Auditor and the East Bay Times disagreed. On October 24, 2022, the East Bay Times article here said, “While this is the first year the city of just 26,000 residents has moved from “high-risk” to “moderate” since the dashboard launched, officials still face an uphill battle to fully fund employee benefits.”

Two weeks ago, you heard it here.  The bottom line is that a 1% improvement and being in the bottom 3% (13 of 431) cities is not cause for celebration. Even with $20 million in new money ($14 million from Measure V real property transfer tax —  and $6 million from ARPA, round numbers) coupled with significant cuts in services, the City is doing very poorly. 

There are many reasons for concerns:  

  1. The City did not make any structural changes to the budget. Without the government bailout and booming Measure V Transfer Tax, the City could quickly drop three positions and return to the list of ten worst cities.
  2. If you take away the $6 million ARPA money that was supposed to help the citizens, the surplus would be just $2 million even though they have received over $14 million in new Measure V money.
  3. There were $500,000 in planned expenses the City Manager did not include in the budget.
  4. The City budgeted $4.3 million in Measure V Transfer Tax Revenue, which was ~$900,000 less than FY22. However, the transfer tax revenue during the first quarter is already 26% less than in FY22. As a result, the City could be $1 to $2 million short in the projections.
  5. The City Manager is up to her old tricks again.  The numbers continually change with no explanation. Budget table has 2-8 reserves at $10.8 million versus the press release at $8.09 million. That equates to an almost $3 million unexplained change.
  6. The City cut services:  They shut down the senior center, reduced library hours and barely have city hall open, yet their big spending budgets have gone from $29 million to $45 million – a 55% increase in just eight years.

The current Mayor, Gabriel (Gabe) Quinto, is up for re-election. You should be concerned. He’s been on the City Council since 2014, when the financial landslide began.   You can see his record on financial matters here

The election is two weeks away.   Vote responsibly and wisely.

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