Urban Futures To Fill Finance Department Gap In SB

(April 5) The city of San Bernardino has filled the finance department vacuum created when former finance director Jason Simpson resigned in February, this week hiring the municipal service consulting firm Urban Futures to oversee the city’s fiscal affairs.
Simpson departed nearly two months ago, leaving the bankrupt city around the same time that acting city manager Andrea Travis-Miller departed.
In multiple ways, those departures left San Bernardino in the lurch. The city, which filed for bankruptcy protection in August, is staggering under a $47 million budget deficit and has lost 535 employees through layoffs, attrition or firings since 2008.
The finance department is a crucial cog in the city’s bankruptcy bid, as multiple entities are challenging the filing. The  city’s pendency plan, which calls for stringent economies and cost and expenditure reductions, needs to be fastidiously documented to continually pass muster with the court.
Urban Futures, which is based in Orange, offers consulting services to municipalities, school districts and other governmental agencies in the areas of public finance, bond issuances, bond disclosure reporting, utilities, capital improvement planning, economic development, housing analysis and housing compliance.
The company has been doing consulting work for the city since last year, having undertaken and completed the financial report that the city council relied upon in making the decision to proceed with the city’s bankruptcy filing.
The city had not replaced Simpson, nor had it filled other vacancies in the finance department. Urban Futures had already been taking up that slack. Acting city manager Allen Parker called upon the city council this week to formalize an arrangement with the consulting firm to act as the city’s de facto finance department.
Parker had started with a more modest proposal to have an Urban Futures employee serve as finance director. As Urban Futures employees began to dig in on the backlog of finance work, including generating court-ready documents and financial statements, completing audits, making ongoing year adjustments to the budget, and preparing the 2013-14 budget, Parker was informed that the staffing requirements were greater than he had presumed.
The city council on April 1 committed the city to utilizing three Urban Futures personnel as the city’s finance director, budget manager and fiscal officer at an annual cost of $450,000. All three are to work out of offices at San Bernardino City Hall. Urban futures then prevailed upon the city to hire another Urban Futures employee to serve as the city’s contract administrator and to augment the finance department team by having the city hire two new employees to work for the city directly as accountants outside the rubric of the contract with Urban Futures.

Leave a Reply