OCEA Auditor - "No Financial Crisis"
This afternoon I was one of the participants in a telephonic press conference held by Jennifer Muir, spokesperson for the Orange County Employee's Association at which the auditor they hired, Steve Foti of the auditing firm of Harvey M. Rose Associates, LLC, answered questions about the recently-completed audit he performed of the City of Costa Mesa's financial condition.
$26 MILLION AVAILABLE
He provided the OCEA with an 8 page Executive Summary and a 27 page audit report. I'm not going to try to cover every number provided and every comment he made during the press conference. However, during his audit he found more than $26 million that COULD be used to help balance the municipal budget and preclude the draconian measures currently being proposed by the majority on the City Council. The chart below is extracted from the cover letter to the final audit report, issued today.
AUDIT TO BE PRESENTED TONIGHT
According to Muir, she has met with City CEO Tom Hatch this morning and provided a copy of the audit and, apparently, will be given 10 minutes to present a summary of this information to the City Council at their meeting tonight.
CITY DOING A GOOD JOB
Based on the comments made in the press conference, Foti opined that Costa Mesa is doing a good job of managing it's finances. When pressed by reporters he would not state that city officials have "hidden" money in the bowels of the municipal finances and would not address anything about "ulterior motives". When pressed by one reporter to give an opinion about how Costa Mesa is doing when compared to other cities, he said our city is doing "better than average".
CAN'T EXPLAIN RIGHEIMER'S NUMBERS
One reporter wondered why Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer was talking about having "only $1million in reserves" when this report states $26 million available. Foti couldn't understand where Righeimer got that number, but didn't attribute an ulterior motive to it.
THIS MAY CHANGE THINGS TONIGHT...
As if the council meeting tonight wasn't going to be enough fun, adding this report into the mix makes me think there may be no chance for a budget to be approved this evening. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't want to see them approve a draconian budget without giving this new information a chance to percolate and be considered carefully. We'll see.