Inglewood Mayor James Butts and the city council declared a fiscal emergency in August, citing a $12 million deficit, while sitting on $15.5 million received from the Biden Administration to cover revenue losses attributed to the COVID pandemic. Inglewood’s Assistant Finance Director Sharon Koike gave a presentation to the council, and public, to corroborate that false claim.
“The city of Inglewood has been facing unprecedented times,” said Sharon Koike, the city’s assistant finance director, during an Aug. 3 meeting. “Enduring the impacts of more than a year of a global pandemic has taken a personal and economic toll on the city, its residents and local businesses, with persistent demand for city services with reduced revenues.”
Butts told the Daily Breeze he was waiting on guidance on how to spend the money, however, the newspaper pointed out the guidelines were outlined prior to the city receiving the money in July.
The U.S. Treasury did issue guidance to cities and states in the form of an “Interim Final Rule” in May 2021 — more than a month before Inglewood received the first half of its ARPA payment — which stated the funds can be spent “to replace state, local and tribal government revenue lost due to COVID-19, helping to ensure that governments can continue to provide needed services and avoid cuts or layoffs.”
Weeks later, after declaring a bogus fiscal emergency, and calling for a special election to raise taxes, they gave out raises. The City Clerk, who handles city elections, and who was elected under suspicious circumstances, was given a raise of an additional $1,000 per month. Is she being paid to fix election results?
The City’s staff report to declare the fiscal emergency projected the deficit to last five years.
According to the California State Auditor’s projections, Inglewood’s fiscal crisis is overblown. The city will reportedly see a $4 million decline in revenues from 2019 to 2022 as a result of pandemic. In fact, the vast majority of California’s cities, including Inglewood, will receive far “more stimulus money than they lost during the pandemic” and should be considering tax reductions, not increases, according to the auditor’s report.
Residents, and former Inglewood elected officials, believe the Butts Administration is defrauding the taxpayers, and enjoining city employees in fraud by giving them raises in exchange for their loyalty.
Who made the conscious decision to hide this money from the public?
City Manager Artie Fields? CFO/Assistant City Manager David Esparza? Assistant Finance Director Sharon Koike-Pitpit? Mayor Butts?
Is the Butts Administration engaged in a racketeering conspiracy?
Daily Breeze contributed to this article.