Timeline of Events Regarding the 2023-2024 Budget

The city of South Pasadena is currently facing a budget deficit for the 2023-2024 fiscal year. A detailed timeline of events pertaining to the budget situation has been compiled.

June 2023

The City Council, in a split vote, approves a $2.2MM deficit spending budget for the 2023-2024 fiscal year.

February 21, 2024

Independent Mid-Year reports describe ongoing deficit spending. NHA Advisors, a leading municipal financial advisor in the state, indicates that the current structural deficit operating revenues and expenses will cause the City to become insolvent in the next 3-5 years. The Budget is now anticipated to be $3.7MM, a nearly 70% increase from the Council approved budget deficit of $2.2MM.

Councilmembers Zneimer and Braun along with the Finance Commission recommend the immediate formation of an Ad Hoc Committee to work quickly with Staff to identity areas to rapidly curb spending deficits and prioritize i) existing City services, ii) maintaining existing staff, and iii) filling all approved “essential” positions (ie, the much needed positions in Planning and Public Safety).

February 26, 2024

Ad Hoc Committee receives from City Management and Finance Staff their ideas on how to reduce deficit spending. This includes eliminating the 4th of July Parade, Holiday lighting and decorations, Concerts in the Park, and many other core Community services while also levying new annual charges against AYSO ($287k) and South Pasadena Little League ($304k). Those making these proposals DO NOT LIVE IN SOUTH PASADENA.  For context, the budget for city events that the City Manager suggested be cut is less than $60,000. Her budget for conferences and meetings including travel and expenses is over $100,000.

February 29, 2024

Finance Commission votes not to approve Mid-Year Budget citing a failure of city management to produce monthly actual spending reports. 

City Management provides conflicting reports using two different sets of numbers covering 7 and 7.5 months respectively. The two versions fail to reconcile with each other or the 6 month reporting period.

March 6, 2024

The Finance Ad Hoc Committee is asked to present a status update during the City Council meeting.  Chair Peter Giuliioni led that update reiterating  the Finance Ad Hoc’s desire to work collaboratively with Staff, that the Finance Ad Hoc continues to wait for Staff to provide information needed for to complete their work. The Finance Commission is still awaiting monthly financials in order recommend Mid-Year Budget to Council and provided some preliminary recommendations to Council to reduce expenses without impacting existing staff or public safety. 

March 20, 2024

In regular open session meeting, Councilman Primuth publicly accuses Finance Commissioner Rossi of intentionally stating “falsehoods” and being “politically motivated” with her work on Ad Hoc Finance Commission. Councilmember Caciotti enthusiastically joins in the fray. Important to note in their attacks on the Ad Hoc Committee, they did not allege any wrong doing by her male counterpart. After some debate, the three male Councilmembers vote to dissolve the Ad Hoc Committee and end their analysis of deficit spending.  

March 28, 2024

Over one month after the mid-year budget report,  Finance Director John Downs publicly acknowledges the significant errors in the in the City’s previous presentations of the Budget numbers and takes responsibility for the weeks of misreporting the Mid-Year Budget Update numbers. Mr. Downs has since announced he will be leaving his position. 

Finance Commission uses the now delivered monthly financial statements as a guide, and discuss openly and collaboratively with Staff, opportunities to reduce the 2023-2024 fiscal year Budget deficits to safely eliminate close to $1M in spending. 

In same meeting of the Finance Commission, members vote to approve Mid-Year Budget Update on the condition that Staff will present Council with the potential Budget deficit reduction recommendations they discussed. 

April 12, 2024

City Staff posts the agenda for the April 17, 2024 City Council meeting, including presentation of the Mid-Year Budget Update.  The Staff Report still reflects a $3.7 million deficit and states, “The Commission recommended that the report be reviewed by the City Council for consideration of approval with the additional details on areas of possible cost savings.” However, the Staff report makes no mention, presentation, or recommendation to the Council of the millions of dollars of potential cost savings discussed by the Finance Commission.

April 17, 2024

Nearly a dozen influential community members make general public comments before the Council demanding the reinstatement of the Ad Hoc Finance Commitee.

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