Redlands' city council and treasurer elections are fast approaching. This is a good time to look at the city finances before we put new people in office. When Mike Reynolds was relieved as City Treasurer, Tina Kundig was appointed as the City Finance Director and Treasurer instead of electing a Treasurer as dictated in the city code. A person has to question why staff and council skirted the Municipal Code and twice refused to hold elections for Treasurer. Now Council are trying to minimize the elected Treasurer's position.
Maybe it is time to examine Ms. Kundig's record and see if she has served the community well or has Ms. Kundig been used as a mere pawn to take the fall for a shady financial game.
At a glance, the city budget appears to be built on a flimsy borrowing and lending game that shuffles funds and liabilities from one fund to another creating reserves that are just "ghost money." Rumor has it that the $5 million landfill set aside monies are included in the reserve fund numbers. Other people say that the Open Space fund has been robbed. Recent examination of the defunct redevelopment fund leaves even more questions as bond obligations were paid for from the water fund. Were the cemetary fund loans made several years ago ever repaid? These issues are just the tip of the iceburg in the Redlands financial shuffle. What is the true state of Redlands financial health? Does anyone know? Who is keeping track of the fund shuffle? If Redlands finances were healthy would staff and council be shuffling funds and using inter-funds loans?
The council patted themselves on the back when they presented the "balanced budget and large reserve fund." Most citizens seem to be just smiling and nodding their heads with approval. However, it would probably be better if citizens started shaking with their heads and asking questions.
Isn't it time to check the financial foundation of Redlands? Is there a crumbling foundation propping up Redlands that will eventually give way to a down trodden city much like San Bernardino? Or will Redlands plod along and maintain the community like we see today?
The actual numbers for pensions and healthcare liabilities aren't discussed. There is never an accounting for the outstanding loans between funds.
Anyone can figure out that when salaries are spiked during the last years of employment and when pension payouts are based on the highest pay level there probably wasn't enough contributed to meet the ballooned pension obligation especially after CALPERS delivered miserable returns. The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) approved new pension liability accounting rules that take effect June 2013.
Why not figure out the liabilities now before the elections so we can have a more accurate assessment of Redlands true financial health? Kicking the can down the road allows persons responsible for the financial mess to escape unchecked and with no accountability.
If there is a problem with the Redlands' finances then we need to know. The first step to solving a problem is to admit a problem exists.