Perrodin blasts budget during Council meeting
COMPTON—Mayor Eric J. Perrodin sounded off about the 2012-2013 budget during the City Council meeting on Tuesday, July 3, and criticized the financial procedures currently employed in the city during his closing comments.
“The city’s budgetary issues concern me,” he said. “I include myself as one of the people who do not take this seriously.”
Perrodin commented as Councilwomen Yvonne Arceneaux and Janna Zurita walked off the dais and left the building.
He defended former City Manager Willie Norfleet who presented a balanced budget for the 2011-2012 fiscal year, and said that behindthe scenes discussion created the deficit last year.
“Some individuals did not like the way Norfleet presented the budget,” he said. “They promised a yes vote, then changed their minds at the last minute. The city was spending money, and if he did not stop it, we would have gone off the cliff.”
Perrodin said the issues were resolved through negotiations.
“After the compromises the deficit stood at $1.7 million,” he said. “Mr. Ewell said the actual shortage was more than $3 million.”
The 2011-2012 budget caused a serious outcry, Perrodin said, which centered on Norfleet because he tried to stop spending money the city did not have.
“The proposed $9.1 million general fund deficit this year is 300 percent higher,” he said. “That is according to Mr. Ewell’s reconstructed budget.”
City Controller Stephen Ajobiewe and Budget Officer Michael Harvey verified the shortage, and said proposed revenue enhancements should reduce the deficit to no more than $3.2 million.
“I have asked every city manager to put controls on the amount of sick, compensatory and vacation time an employee accumulates,” he said. “They refused to do it.”
Benefit abuse occurred when junior employees became city manager, Perrodin said, and left with large severance packages.
“One employee left with $500,000,” he said. “Another employee received between $350,000 and $400,000. If employees retire, we should pay their benefits with money in the bank.”
The city needs approximately $7.9 in reserves for retirement expenses.
“If you add the unfunded retirement money to the proposed general fund deficit the city faces a $17 million shortfall,” he said. “Gov. Jerry Brown cut $195.7 million worth of funds slated for child care, college scholarships and state parks, and added it to a rainy day fund, just in case something happens.”
Harvey said the city should also have 10 percent in reserves, which is an additional $16 million.
“We have a $33 million deficit if we combine all those totals together,” Perrodin said.
The city must take positive action right away, he said, and stop hiring people.
“I got a text on the way to the meeting advising me about a special personnel meeting focused on making temporary appointments,” Perrodin said. “I am in favor of people having jobs, but if this keeps going, no one, including me, will have a job.”
He said his district attorney salary is three times his mayoral salary, and he serves because he loves Compton.
“The Founding Fathers set the salary at $600 per month,” Perrodin said. “We get way more than that. I make approximately $50,000 per year, plus medical, dental and retirement benefits.”
He read from the Los Angeles County Grand Jury Charter City Fiscal Heath and Management Practice report, which recommends that Compton change many of its current best practices.
“The report suggests that Compton, among other cities, should develop financial planning, revenue and procedures policies that will guide city officials to sustainable, balanced budgets,” Perrodin said. “The report also advises the city should commit to a balanced budget and operate within its constraints.”
“All charter cities should have a savings plan,” he said, “and create a reserve or rainyday fund which supplements operating revenues during a shortfall.”
Compton was included in the list of cities that should adopt a strategic plan that articulates its mission, vision, priorities, goals, objectives and core values.
“The report suggests the city should also establish a committee responsible for the independent auditor’s action,” Perrodin said.
Perrodin addressed allegations that he caused the auditing firm Mayer Hoffman Mc- Cann PC to resign because he would not discuss his fraud and public fund abuse allegations with the group.
“I gave the state controller a list of concerns that have probably gone on for decades,” he said. “His office has not completed the investigation, so I did not speak with the auditor. If I mention these things to the controller or city attorney, then most of the people involved will cover their tracks.”
The state audit, Perrodin said, should have occurred a long time ago.
“The city charter has checks and balances covering abuse, discretion and illegal activities,” he said. “It is not my fault that we cannot get an audit. If the city did things right in the first place, we would not have this problem.”
Perrodin said he was surprised when the controller informed him that Bell, called into scrutiny about questionable financial practices, employed the same audit firm Compton did.
“I am not saying there is anything wrong with the company,” he said. “But it associates us with something that leaves a bad taste in your mouth.”
“I should have been jumping up and down about this sooner,” he said.
Perrodin said he would review the grand jury report in its entirety over the next several weeks, and encouraged every to remain engaged and informed.
“Anyone can get this book,” he said. “It is a public document.”
The next City Council meeting is on Tuesday, July 17.