Fitzgerald’s Fiduciary Fictions

The Case of the Disappearing/Reappearing Balanced Budget

Many of you may recall that during my campaign for Fullerton City Council I wrote an Open Letter to Jennifer Fitzgerald. I’d like to revisit the issue of Mrs. Fitzgerald’s oft-repeated myth of a balanced budget.

On her website as well as on campaign literature she made the point that our budget is balanced. I offer as evidence a screen-grab from her campaign website from 22 October 2016;

I won’t re-litigate the whole letter here but suffice it to say I wasn’t happy about her Public Relations spin on our overspending by at least 43 Million Dollars during her tenure.

I’m bringing this all up due to agenda item #2 from last night’s Council Meeting. The council voted 5-0 to receive and file the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for the fiscal year ending 30 June 2016. Inside the CAFR was one little nugget really stood out to me when reading the report.

Let’s see if you can spot it;

Did you spot it?

Okay, I suppose I can give you a hint; we spent more than we received. See it now?

To make matters worse our friends over at FACT asked Marc Joffee, a notable public finance expert, to run Fullerton’s latest financial statements through the California Policy Center’s “Fiscal Health Index”. After plugging in the numbers & spinning the nobs, Mr. Joffee noted a significant reduction in Fullerton’s score due to “a drop in the general fund balance due to the 2016 deficit.”

A deficit?

We can’t have a deficit. Mrs. Fitzgerald told us that we had a balanced budget. For goodness sake I have a screen-grab from her website. Our budget is so balanced that Jan Flory even rebuked me at a council meeting over this issue. It’s balanced!

Why just this last year at the State of the City talk at C.S.U.F. Fitzgerald proffered the following nonsense;

“Through sound financial management by our staff and this City Council our City’s General Fund reserve balance is a very healthy $13.6 million, significantly higher than the Council’s 10% reserve policy.
“After struggling through the recession, this is an incredible accomplishment. We’ve built this reserve through our strong and well diversified tax base of residential, commercial and industrial properties. And we’ve simply gotten out of the way and allowed investment to happen in Fullerton.”
Even though our reserve budget continues to drop year after year it’s still miraculously above the 10% self-set council policy. This allows folks like Mrs. Fitzgerald to pretend things are rosy regardless of reality. Reality, mind you, that is discovered only by those who actually look at the numbers and offer us the proof against her puffery.

9 Replies to “Fitzgerald’s Fiduciary Fictions”

  1. Thank you proving that Jennifer Fitzgerald is a liar. Our finances, infrastructure and civic morality are all in dire straits. The question for all of us is how do we remove her from office? I am not the least bit pleased with the other four either. It seems to me that they all had involvement in her securing a second term.

    1. Yes, but soon that well is going to run dry.

      I would like the City Manager to be paid ONLY if the City is in the black. He can have all of the black. Let him earn his keep.

  2. To be fair, the city manager probably told her that it was balanced. And she was dumb enough to believe him. She probably doesn’t know the difference between a balanced and unbalanced budget.

  3. Fitzgerald always edits the true picture for her self serving interest. A mild example was seeen at Tuesday’s meeting on the Slidebar issue. She had everything arranged to have the city employee answer her question regarding the Slidebar license with a reply of her liking, even though, by innuendo, everyone understood that the Slidebar does not have a license for some of its most disruptive activities (i.e. loud concerts).
    Similarly Fitzgerald emphasizes reserves are above the 10% minimum recommended, but brushes aside the tapping into said financial reserves .Nevertheless, we all know that many general fund highlights and financial statements can be very misleading when it comes to bracing for the future. The composition or weight of the different obligations can turn around the rosiest publicly presented financial report . Not to mention that wise forecasts are not incorporated in the actual calculations ( for example public debt yield increases, as money has been cheap in the last years but won’t be that cheap anymore)

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