Auditor Confirms Inglewood Not in Debt to CRA

Thursday, July 16, 2015 Written by 
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At Tuesday’s council meeting, two public hearings were held regarding the Section 8, Housing, And Community Development Block Grant. The first focused on submittal of the Draft Fiscal Year 2015-2016 Annual Action Plan to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Los Angeles Field Office.


Diane Sombrano pointed out the shortage of ADA ramps in the city, and its negative impact on those who rely on wheelchairs for mobility.


“I like the comments raised in the audience.  We need to look at 111th Place and Prairie Avenue.  There was a resident at a Laundromat (and) there is an ADA ramp for them to leave on that side of the street but they could not enter on the other side,” said Councilman Ralph Franklin.   “I am taking down the areas of concern by residents.  We have to have something bona fide that we can look at. . .When we are working on improvements we want to have bona fide notations raised by the residents.”


A second hearing involving Section 8 Housing was held to consider approval of the Inglewood Housing Authority (IHA) Fiscal Year 2015-2016 Annual Plan and Streamlined 5-Year Plan 2015-2020.  The plan was approved and will be submitted to the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Los Angeles Field Office.


Councilman George Dotson  asked when the Section 8 waiting list might be reopened.  “They are targeting October of this year,” Housing Manager Angie Pacheco said.


The council agreed to adopt a resolution ratifying the appointment/reappointment of several South Bay Workforce Investment Board members: Jesus Fernandez and Linda Bradley of Inglewood; Lilian Haney, Marty Jones, Tod Sword, and Raj Dhillio of Hawthorne; Glenn Mitchell of Gardena; Michael Jackson of Redondo Beach;  David Noflin, Tamala Lewis, and Janine Hamner of Carson; and Fran Fulton, Christopher Braun, Ellenmary Michel, and Hattie Harrison of Torrance.


The purchase of sixty mobile data computers was approved for the Inglewood Police Dept.


A representative from Mayer Hoffman, McCann PC brought the public up-to-date on the City’s finances.  The company conducted a Fiscal Year 2013-2014 Basic Financial Statements and Single Audit Report. 


 “(The City) is showing a robust balance sheet with $115 million, and $24million in the General Fund, and  Moody’s upgraded bond rating,” he said.  


“I want to interrupt you from one second.  There is a member of the public who says the City is somewhere between $900,000,000 and $1 billion in debt.  Can you comment?” Mayor James Butts asked.  He was referring to Gil Matheiu, who has often said Inglewood owed the state hundreds of millions which it received for various projects.  Inglewood, along with several other cities, received annual funding from the state before the California Redevelopment Agency was eliminated in 2012.


“The action of the state legislation has rolled off that debt from the City of Inglewood.  That debt is in no way, shape or form payable from the General Fund…or any other fund from the City,” the auditor said.  He praised the City and said “significant improvements” have been made in how City finances are being handled.


“I was here 5 or 6 years ago when we were behind.  Can you highlight some of the changes that were made to get us where we are?” Councilman Eloy Morales asked.


The number of finding has declined from 29 in 2010, to the current number 15, the auditor said.  “The focus now is on compliance issues versus internal control issues,” said Assistant City Manager/CFO David Esparza.  “We’ve cleaned up many of the accounts.   We had to close down some accounts and open new ones to isolate funding sources.  We wanted to make the funding as transparent as possible.”


“When I came to the City, our finances were a mess.  We had huge unfunded liabilities…I am very glad that we can finally put to rest this idea that the City owes the old redevelopment agency.  The state took it over, and they took over whatever debt was left,” Mayor Butts said.


“He’s (Mathieu) a smart man, he’s a doctor.  But I’m so glad he’s wrong (about the debt). Let’s move forward to where we’re going,” said Ray Davis.


Council members adopted 2 resolutions.  One will allow City employees hired before 1986 to vote for participate in the Medicare portion of the Federal Social Security Retirement System. The second reflects an agreement by the Inglewood Police Officers Association and Inglewood Police Management Association to pay an additional 4% of the CalPERS (retirement) employee rate, for classic members, while the City will pay one percent (1%) of the nine percent (9%) employee rate.


The salary ordinance for Fiscal Year 2014-2015 will be updated.


A public hearing was set for July 28, 2015, at 7:00pm to receive public comments on the City of Inglewood’s 2015 Local Development Report and approve the City’s conformance with the Los Angeles County Congestion Management Program.


A man who lives near Manchester  and 12th Avenue wants Inglewood police to monitor his neighborhood.  He mentioned a man who makes illegal right turns on a one-way street, frequently gets into arguments with neighbors over his driving, and uses his government credentials to try and get away with it.


The meeting closed about an hour later, with council members coming to the mayor’s defense against a critic:


 “In this city the leader is Mayor Butts.  He has earned that right, nobody gave it to him. . .Please give some respect where respect is due,” Dotson said.


“It’s just such a breath of fresh air to have the chemistry that these 5 on the dais have.  Our mayor is our leader … He has transparency and reaches out to each councilmember,” Franklin said. 


“I don’t know how anyone can complain with the results we have.  Individually we may not be as strong as we are as a unit. The mayor—he’s here all the time—nobody works harder.  At the end of the day residents get the results,” Morales said.    


Butts made an analogy between his critics and a line from comedian Richard Pryor.  “The line goes, ‘Who are you going to believe—me or your lying eyes?’ We have the lowest homicide rate, we’ve tripled our reserves.  Property values are up 51% since 2012.  But some people say, ‘don’t pay attention to that.  It’s terrible here.’” 


Councilman Alex Padilla announced the Union 76 gas station has reopened on La Tijera and Centinela.  Inglewood was selected as a host city for the Special Olympics.  There will be a kickoff ceremony on July 22, 11am at the Fabulous Forum.  L.A. Clippers player Paul Pierce, CBS sportscaster Jim Hill and 1964 Olympian and silver medalist Marilyn Elaine White will participate.  




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