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Letter to the Editor: APPLY MORE REALISTIC FINANCIAL PROJECTION

Editor, Times-Advocate:

This letter was originally intended to be delivered to the June 14 meeting of the Escondido City Council.

Mayor Sam Abed, and all Escondido City Council members –

(and my District 2 representative – Mike Morosco.)

My attention was first drawn to Attachment “A” of the Staff Report sections under “Assumptions,” and “Conclusion.”  The following sentence, under Conclusion needs further examination and explanation, because projected future revenue of 8% seems highly unrealistic, and improbable, based on leading economic indicators, best projections, past performance, and many quarters when projected revenue targets were unmet.

Conclusion:  “Another goal of the City is to maintain balanced budget without use of reserves.  In order to completely fund the assumed increases in expenditures, revenue would need to increase by 4% in 2018-19;  8% in 2019-20;  and 3% in 2020-21 to have a balanced budget.  Revenue and expenditure projections will be continuously monitored and adjustments made both quarterly and during annual budget process to maintain a balanced budget.”

Second, my attention was drawn to the most recent update to City Council from the March 8, 2017 Council Meeting – Agenda Item was on Housing projections and General Plan Implementation Plan in City’s first Annual report (2016) following General Plan update in 2012.

The comprehensive analysis prepared on Escondido General Plan implementation for year 2016 was the first-year routine Annual Reporting was resumed after General Plan 2012 update. The extensive analysis contained many important findings that I thought deserved more extensive public discussion, and a far more focused integration into City’s Annual Budget process, and earlier work devoted to updates on Escondido Action Plans, which was pivotal to define funding priorities.

The General Plan Implementation Plan (GPIP) for 2016 identified a number of high priority items that I think should have been utilized as a fundamental starting point, before City Council began to undertake work on separate item to update City’s Action Plan, and define funding priorities during January and February 2017.

One observation that was made apparent in the General Plan Implementation report to City Council on March 8, 2017 is the Growth Management Element of General Plan is supposed to be reviewed and updated annually to identify infrastructure deficiencies in the City.   I don’t recall seeing such updates, and in hindsight it seems unclear if such annual reports were prepared, or made publicly available online. The reason I felt it is important to bring the topic up as a current issue with proposed 2018-19 Budget, is because the GPIP Report contained conclusions about the ongoing major infrastructure deficiencies in Escondido, including drainage deficiencies, circulation deficiencies, and Growth Management Element requires system to identify specific funding mechanisms to ensure adequate contributions to finance infrastructure upgrades are collected, and evaluate if development fees are sufficient.

Escondido Chamber of Citizens (ECOC) circulated earlier correspondence (March 2017) that was directed to SANDAG , and elected officials in County of San Diego and the eighteen cities within San Diego County, to examine the new potential revenue source patterned after “traffic uniform mitigation fees” (TUMF) collected since 2002 by West Riverside Council of Governments (WRCOG).

Given the extreme budget shortfalls, and larger projections for future expenditures than past budget forecasts projected, there is urgency for City of Escondido, and all government agencies in San Diego County to apply more realistic financial projections, that are not only limited to projected CalPERS contributions, but examines needs for infrastructure upgrades, which are extremely expensive.

PATRICIA BORCHMANN, Escondido

*

Editor—Mike Morasco actually represents the 4th district.

*Note: Opinions expressed by columnists and letter writers are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the newspaper.

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