Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts Jr. stated he wouldn’t address possible reduction in staffing levels until March of this year because of a revenue shortfall for FY 2020-2021. Inglewood is on track to have a budget deficit of $9.8 million and the city’s Finance Department will present FY 2020-2021 1st Quarter numbers, at this Tuesday’s city council meeting, showing revenue of $23 million and expenditures of $30 million.
According to the staff report, Inglewood Police Department (IPD) has saved taxpayers $1 million in expenses, over this time last fiscal year, which the report attributes to reduction in overtime and vacancies.. Although crime is up, the city has recorded three murders since Jan 5 and Police Chief Mark Fronterotta has responded by increasing patrols and making staff more visible throughout the day. IPD doesn’t list crime stats for 2020.
The council will receive CARES Act funding, through a public safety grant, totaling $180,369 to purchase equipment and supplies for IPD.
As expected, Sales and Utility Taxes are down due to the shutdown of businesses and utility providers providing immediate relief to users due to COVID-19. Inglewood has also allowed residents to avoid water shutoffs if their bills become past due.
Interestingly, “other revenue” consisting of fees associated with planning, permits, parking and code enforcement were also expected to be down from this same time period, October 1 – December 30, due to the pandemic.
Surprisingly, CFO David Esparza has lumped in fees from the Housing Protection Program (HPP) into this category, despite the program not being implemented on-time in October 2020.
The Department’s launch date was initially scheduled for October 1, 2020; however, due to the COVID-19 emergency, the launch date has been delayed until 2021.
Because of the pushback, fees have yet to be collected from landowners, so it is erroneous to blame the reduction on revenue on a program that has yet to bring in a single dollar although they are reporting over $377,000 in department expenditures.
Tuesday’s council agenda includes a contract amendment with consultants MGT Consulting Group Inc., to establish fees directly related to the HPP.
Another contradiction found in the 1st Quarter budget relates to General Government operating costs. The report says the city has expenditures totaling $3.8 million.
However the details shows they have spent $5.3 million.
Inglewood city council is spending more than they are taking in and they will now need to entertain the thought of furloughs and/or reducing staff when the library’s and parks remain closed to the public. Mayor Butts has extended the closure of city hall, to the public, to April, and revenue will continue to show a decline in all categories except for property taxes.
We still don’t know how much taxpayers will have to pay for lawsuits related to Mayor Butts’ auto accident near USC and the pending litigation related to Melanie McDade and Wanda Brown.
With city’s continuing to be operating in the red, don’t you find it coincidental that COVID-19 numbers have miraculously all but disappeared and there is now a “rush” to reopen the economy?