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Letter: 'Garbage in' came from city report

October 18, 2013

In June 2013 the Civil Grand Jury reported its survey of various measures concerning the fiscal condition of 88 Los Angeles County cities; it ranked cities accordingly on each. Glendale ranks well on some, low on others. It's low on the measure examining revenues versus expenditures.

The city manager, with the silent acquiescence of the City Council, dismissed Glendale's low rankings, saying in his professional opinion, it was garbage in, garbage out. But the exhibits, containing the data determining the rankings, cite their sole data source as city Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports, the cities' independently audited financial statements. Glendale's is submitted for council approval by its director of finance with prior approval of the city manager.

Absent further explanation, it appears the city manager sought to discredit low rankings by labeled our report, which he approved, as garbage.

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More important than rankings is the data upon which they are based. They reveal Glendale is spending more than it takes in. When considering all city funds (including GWP), the report shows expenditures exceeded revenues in 2010/11 by 9.1% and in 2011/12 by 11.2%.

Because the grand jury reported the unassigned general fund balance dropped from more than $63 million in 2011 to less than $38 million in 2012, I assume this drop went to plug the gap.

These numbers, showing the city living beyond its means and doing so by eating into its reserves, are serious. They deserve more than a “garbage-in-garbage-out” dismissal. But so long as a docile voting public accepts such dismissals, that's all we'll get.

Harry Zavos
Glendale

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