Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts Jr. and the members of the city council lied to residents when they voted unanimously to declare a fiscal emergency, to justify raising taxes on a special election ballot slated for November 2, 2021. The city failed to provide the city with a mid-year budget presentation, for the current fiscal year, which would have revealed the nearly $16 million received from the American Recovery Plan Act two months ago in July. The city declared the fiscal emergency days later on August 3.
When asked why the public wasn’t told that about the money, the mayor refused to provide responses to the Daily Breeze.
Butts did not respond to a request for clarification as to why the city did not consider the May 2021 guidance sufficient to budget the monies. He also did not respond when asked for clarification on why the city did not mention the existence of the $31 million when pushing the tax measures at its Aug. 3 council meeting.
“For the mayor and city council not to disclose they received money under the Biden Act, and to declare fiscal emergency, is confirmation they can’t be trusted, and why they cancelled this week’s city council meeting,” said Marvin McCoy. “Inglewood residents need to reject this tax measure.”
Par for the course for this council, with an alleged $63 million in reserves, with no clear distinction of whether it includes the ARPA money, the city got busy spending it.
Inglewood Police Department has awarded an $8 million contract to California Highway Patrol, $5 million to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and $1 million to Hawthorne Police Department.
The council also gave out raises.
Last week, the Inglewood City Council approved a $100,000 contract to promote the tax measures to voters. At the same meeting, the council also voted to give raises to several city employees, including a $1,000 a month raise — approximately a 10% increase — for its elected city clerk.
A staff report said the raises were necessary to bring the positions in line with those in other cities.
The city played this game a couple of years ago when they refinanced the pension bonds, and injected the savings into to reserves, then gave out raises.
“This council has an overspending problem!” said Treasurer Wanda Brown. “When the city refinanced the pension obligation bonds, instead of paying down the debt, they put the money into the general fund as if it were revenue.”
When asked about the state auditor’s assessment that the City isn’t in as bad a shape as claimed, in a sly way rejecting the city’s fiscal emergency declaration and upcoming tax ballot measures, Butts rejected their findings.
Mayor scoffs at auditor’s figures
In emails, Mayor James T. Butts Jr. scoffed at the auditor’s projections, saying the figures for Inglewood relied on a single year’s audited budget and failed to exclude one-time revenues the city did not have in subsequent years. The city’s estimated $12 million deficit for the 2020-21 fiscal year is based on midyear actuals, not old data, Butts stated.
The City is due to receive an additional $16 million in ARPA funds in July 2022, which could result in raises for Inglewood Police Department when their current contract ends at the same time.
The City has yet to officially receive the money and make the necessary budget adjustments to reflect it.
It is CLEAR this mayor and council can not be trusted to do the jobs residents elected them to do when they blatantly, chose to lie to the residents.
This council had no justification for declaring a fiscal emergency, or calling for a special election in November.
Residents are encouraged to vote against the proposed tax increases in November, and NOT re-elect James Butts, George Dotson, or Alex Padilla in 2022 on the grounds of deceiving the public on its finances.
Read the full Daily Breeze article by clicking here.