City Council rejects bond reallocation
COMPTON—The City Council rejected a budget amendment during a special meeting on Monday, July 31, that would have appropriated lease revenue bond money for projects involving the Los Angeles County Sheriff ’s Department and the long awaited Martin Luther King Transit Center.
Council members Yvonne Arceneaux,
Willie Jones and Janna Zurita voted in favor of the resolution. Mayor Eric J. Perrodin and Councilwoman Lillie Dobson voted no. Passing a budget amendment requires a fourvote majority.
The Council adopted Resolution 23,422 on Nov. 8, 2011, which authorized $4 million of 2008 Project Fund money for improvements to the Martin Luther King Transit Center, as well as $700,000 for dispatch center upgrades at Compton Station and $7 million for debt service payments on the lease revenue bond fund itself.
The vote authorized the proposed upgrades and debt service payments but did not appropriate money for the projects.
City Attorney Craig Cornwell said the three items in the resolution were placed on the approved project list in November 2011, and posed no legal issues if the Council approved the action.
“There was a public hearing that made the dispatch center, MLK project and debt service payment on the bond a project for three years,” he said.
Upgrades to City Hall remain unfinished, and $13 million will remain in the bond fund after executing the resolution.
Dobson said the MLK project money still concerns her.
“I toured the facility, and there are things that still need attention,” she said. “The ladies’ restroom has a concrete floor and one little sink. The last time I saw that was in Mississippi, and that was an outdoor facility.”
Dobson said the contractors abandoned the project and the matter is in litigation.
“I need to know how much money it will take to clear up the remaining construction issues,” she said.
The transit center has minor items remaining that will cost $20,000.
“The money placed in the MLK project serves as financial assurances for the upcoming mediation and litigation between the city, bond company and contractor,” Cornwell said. “The contractor took an adversarial stand and no longer works on the project.”
Improvements to the LASD dispatch center enhance the quality of life for Compton residents, Zurita said, and will improve a city-owned building.
“This is the final piece of the citywide camera project,” City Manager Howard Duffey said. “The project cannot be completed unless the dispatch center receives an upgrade.”
Perrodin planned on presenting his plan for financial recovery to Council members during the meeting, but decided to wait until Duffey has a chance to present his ideas.
“Duffey sought me out multiple times, and tried to engage me in conversation before he started working here,” he said. “I did not want to speak with him before he becomes city manager, but he is professional and has my respect. It would be improper for me to present my ideas first.”
In comments after the meeting, Perrodin said he could not support using the bond money for items other than those it was intended for.
“The lease revenue bonds are supposed to be used for projects that bring money to the city,” he said. “I understand the argument for the transit center, but I am not sure it will pay for the debt service on the bond.”
The legality of using money for debt service and a dispatch center concerns him, Perrodin said, and he encouraged everyone to do their own research.
“It is disingenuous of the Council to vote on something based only on the advice of the city attorney,” he said.
Duffey said the vote does not have an immediate impact on the city.
“I will come back to the Council with financial updates throughout the budget year,” he said. “We will find another way to move forward.”
The next lease revenue bond payment is due by Saturday, Sept. 1.
The next City Council meeting is on Tuesday, Sept. 4.