Neither City Manager Nor Finance Director Attend Public Hearing On SB Budget

(July2)  The San Bernardino City Council this week passed its 2014-15 budget during a public meeting with neither city manager Allen Parker nor finance director David Cain present.
The council signed off on the spending plan, which calls for expenditures of $117,354,540 out of the general fund over the next 12 months. The city anticipates $123,809,391 in revenue into the general fund, so the budget is ostensibly and provisionally balanced, a considerable feat for the city which filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection in August 2012.
The budget, however, was reworked from previous drafts which at that time reflected a $22.8 million deficit.
Parker and Cain obtained the pared-back spending plan through a series of economies, many of which angered the city’s stakeholders.
One example was the sacrifice the fire department was called upon to make, with $2.33 million being subtracted from its operational allowance, reducing its scheduled spending from the $30.4 million it had in 2013-2014 to $28.07 million this fiscal year. In response, fire chief Paul Drasil is set to close Fire Station 230, located at Mill and Arrowhead Avenue and will decrease operations at Station 224, north of Highland Avenue and E Street, by one unit.
The budget also calls for deferring $10.6 million in payments to creditors, many of whom have been lined up nearly two years to be paid following the city’s bankruptcy filing.
The Herculean task of arriving at a budget for the county seat has clearly taken its toll on Parker and Cain.
Both of Parker’s predecessor’s as city manager, Charles McNeely  and interim Andrea Travis-Miller, were undone by San Bernardino’s financial challenges. McNeely left just prior to the city’s bankruptcy filing. Travis-Miller was understandably overwhelmed at taking the helm of a financially foundering city.
Parker and Cain, exhausted at having put the unwieldy fiscal figures onto paper, apparently were not up to the task of withstanding the firestorm of protest that they anticipated would take place in the public forum for the document’s official passage.
The approval of the budget this week was considered to be a milestone and members of the council labored at having to negotiate through the thicket of decisions relating to its passage without the city manager or finance director present, as questions with regard to several line items manifested during the course of the meeting.
The council soldiered on, however, approving the budget on a 5-2 vote, with council members John Valdivia and Benito Barrios dissenting.
For the most part, the council as a body maintained its outwardly calm demeanor, but it was hinted that a job review for Parker, who is being paid $221,976 annually, will soon be scheduled as a closed-door discussion item for the council.

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