The 1st Quarter Budget, for the period of October 1, 2015-December 31, 2015, was the highlight of Tuesday’s City Council meeting. Assistant City Manager and Chief Financial Officer David Esparza presented the financial report for the City of Inglewood.
Property taxes are up by 4 percent. The increase is attributed to Prop 13 and the rising value of homes. Sales taxes are down 34%. “We attribute this to timing issues,” Esparza said. “The decrease in gas prices has impacted that (number) slightly. “
“Many revenues are cyclical in nature” Esparza explained. “We need to catch up with the time limits on the collections. Projections of revenue are less than what is projected by the end of the year.”
Mayor James Butts said certain expenditures and collections may not occur during the same reporting periods. “We do not spend in a straight line nor do we collect in a straight line,” he said.
Currently, the General Fund reserve is approximately $39 million. General Fund expenditures to date are approximately $23 million. The council approved a $1 million increase in the police budget. Expenditures would go primarily toward overtime pay, with $661,000 being used for patrol purposes.
Councilman Ralph Franklin wanted to know if the overtime request by police had anything to do with increased activity in the city, such as Forum events.
“No, overtime is reimbursed by the Forum,” Esparza said. “This is general purpose overtime for their operations.”
Utility user taxes are down 7%. Franklin told the audience that the City has been losing revenue from utility user tax because more users are shopping online and using video streaming entertainment like Netflix, which cannot be taxed. “We do not get the revenue when they pay for that package, yet we are hoping to obtain revenues from cell phone or Direct TV purposes,” he said.
The City’s hiring freeze amounted to $220,388 in savings.
“We have downsized our operations, but not so far that we couldn’t deliver services,” said Mayor Butts.
The mayor read a statement by credit rating agency Moody’s that said, Inglewood’s financial reserves “far surpass any city in the nation that they rate. . .So that isn’t just Mr. Esparza but that’s Moody’s assessment as well.”
Mike Benbow made a joke in response to a rumor that Inglewood was deep in debt.
“We’re supposed to be 2 billion in debt. I don’t see how Moody’s missed that. Can someone explain that to me?”
City Treasurer Wanda Brown announced that her office will provide free tax preparation assistance for seniors this year. The income cutoff to qualify is $60,000 annually.
Councilman George Dotson gave a shout-out to the 77th Street Block Club for their recent event. He also reminded the audience about his upcoming Town Hall meeting at Center of Hope Church, 9550 Crenshaw Blvd., Feb. 20 from10am to noon; and his free document shredding event on Feb. 27 from 9am to noon at the ICOP Center, 2901 W. Manchester Blvd.
Councilman Alex Padilla commented on the 1st Quarter Budget. “We are heading in the right direction financially. As you heard from Mr. Esparza, the city is looking good.” He also told the public to save the date of June 11 for the annual Relay for Life event. Each year, Inglewood participates in the fundraiser, organized by the American Cancer Society, to draw attention to cancer victims and health awareness. It will take place on Crozier Field at Crozier Middle School. This year, Relay for Life will be a one-day event, instead of overnight.
Street improvement projects in Inglewood are moving right along. “They’re almost through on Van Ness, from Manchester to Imperial Hwy. Work is also being done on Imperial Hwy. from Van Ness to Prairie,” Franklin said.
Councilman Eloy Morales added that the Public Works crew is “already finishing up sidewalks and tearing into the streets. We can’t have what we want until we pay the price. But looking at the budget, more streets have been paved and sidewalks done in the last 2 years.”
“I am extraordinarily proud to be your mayor. There is no city in the country that has made the evolution, the progress we’ve made over the last 4 years. If you’re in touch with reality, there is no way you can deny it anymore,” Butts said.
Councilman Dotson nominated and Mayor Butts appointed Jade Wheatley and Pedro Silva as District 1 Youth Commissioners.