Inglewood Mayor James Butts has attained his goal of removing certain duties from under the city treasurer and moved them back into the city’s finance department. Treasurer Wanda Brown has caught the ire of the mayor and council for alerting the public to the true state of the city’s finances. As a direct result, Mayor Butts has had Brown’s mic cut off during her comments, removed her from the dais and banished her from attending meetings altogether.
During the September 22nd regular city council meeting, the council unanimously approved removing auditing duties from the treasurer and placed limits on the amount of city funds she is able to invest.
In July, Brown mentioned that because of the condition of the finances, the city would be forced to entertain furloughs. Mayor Butts said she was “misleading” the employees and public, however, during the FY 2020-2021 budget presentation, which projects a $9.8 million revenue shortfall, Councilman Eloy Morales explained “tough decisions” would need to be made. In an email to city employees, Butts explained those “tough decisions” would be made by the end of the new fiscal years 1st quarter which ends in March 2021.
A glimpse into the reality of the city’s finances reared its ugly head in the budget presentation which showed inconsistencies in what is being presented to the public vs what is actually taking place.
In September 2018, the city adopted the FY 2018-2019 budget which projected a surplus of $56.179. The surplus was alleged to be due in part to a refinance of pension obligation bonds that addressed the $17 million revenue shortfall in FY 2017-2018.
In September 2019, the city adopted the FY 2019-2020 budget which projected a surplus of $91,885.
According to Brown “the budget is a living document that can be changed from time to time, however, what can’t be manipulated is the Comprehensive Annual Finance Report (CAFR)” that she consistently brings up as validation of the definitive source of the city’s financial standing as detailed by a report of cities with debt management troubles.
The FY 2020-2021 budget presentation showed that the city did NOT have a surplus in FY 2018-2020 and used $14.3 million of the reserves to shore up the difference, while expecting to use $9.8 million for the upcoming fiscal year.
With numerous delays attached to the opening of SoFi Stadium and the COVID-19 global pandemic it appears the city of Inglewood is in dire financial straits and Butts is doing everything in his power to keep it from the public, including removing duties and access to the city’s finances, from the treasurer, to keep us in the dark.Treasurer Report CC -9-22-20 O-1 Amended