CITY MANAGER RUSSO IS IN THE DRIVERS SEAT….HOW SAFE DO YOU FEEL?
Our Fugacious, City Manager Mr. Russo and Assistant City Manager Marianna wrote an editorial about the current state of “Fiscal Reckoning”, in the City of Riverside. He was trying to defuse the message that the city is going down the path of bankruptcy. I think Mr. Russo needs to leave the messaging to the professionals. His office is only making it worse and more obvious. You can read the full article on the Press Enterprise.
Who are the Perennial Critics or should I say who are the Truth Tellers. Me Vivian Moreno, Dvonne Pitruzzello, Raychelle Sterling, Jason Hunter, Kevin Dawson, Karen Wright, Marilyn Whitney, Aurora Chavez, Scott Simpson and my man Javier Moreno, we all work really hard and our motivation is to protect the underserved, disabled, elderly, and the taxpayer/ ratepayer from bad decision making at city hall that will ultimately raise taxes and our utility bills.
Because I was referred to in this article I needed to answer or clarify the statements that were made. We took out all the fat or unnecessary verbiage and just left in the substance.
The city of Riverside has enjoyed financial success in the past decade, most notably through the on-time and on-budget delivery of the nearly $2 billion Riverside Renaissance capital improvement program. The city rode out the Great Recession with grace. By Borrowing or Stealing (depending who you ask) from Riverside Public Utilities, Water fund, Sewer fund, Electric fund, Workmans comp.fund, and the Rate Payer. Now, the city is in a “Fiscal Reckoning of this magnitude”, those are your words Mr. Russo not ours.
That success, however, was partially due to budgeting practices that are no longer sustainable. Whether it was borrowing from other funds to prop up the city’s General Fund. Why would the General fund have to be propped up? Our General fund cannot function without the propping up by Riverside Public Utilities…..REALLY BIG MISTAKE!
There is nothing ethically wrong with these practices, NO… IT”S JUST PLAIN STUPID, and they are certainly not illegal. Depending on who you ask. Indeed, many cities employ some variation of such budgeting practices, and Riverside could have continued doing so for many years without encountering serious financial difficulties. Just like the city of Bell.
However, reliance on such practices is not sustainable over the long term, and goes against the principles of prudence and conservatism in municipal budgeting. First you say we could have continued down this path for many years and now you say it’s unsustainable, WHAT? You sound like a crooked politician, maybe you should elaborate on (long term) and (many years).
The city’s new administration has spent several months working to institute the kind of fiscal discipline required to generate healthy and sustainable budgets well into the future. This process has been difficult at times for everyone involved. A $1 million surplus projected for fiscal year 2015-16 – built on the type of budgeting we should no longer allow – has morphed into a shortfall of about $8 million. This shortfall, if not corrected with sustainable ongoing measures, will result in a $10-12 million budget hole in fiscal year 2016-17.
While the projected deficit numbers may seem scary, they are not surprising – the city has had an expenditure problem for years. The very smart Perennial Critics recognized a expenditure problem years ago. The Council, over the last 10 years voted yes to all the expenditures. No one was listening to the very smart citizens who saw the writing on the wall. BUMMER!
All city departments will recommend cuts to the council, and, while it is management’s intent to minimize service reductions, those impacts are probably unavoidable in the face of a fiscal reckoning of this magnitude. Why? Because the only effective budgeting tool available to the council is service cuts; in California, most revenue increases require voter approval. Are you going to cut the contracts for Government Entertainment? I can answer that NO! So let’s get this perfectly clear the Citizens have their services cut but we the citizens continue to pay for Government Entertainment. Most of the citizens of Riverside will never have the opportunity to afford to go to the Fox Theatre but they will still have to pay for it! We lose Police and Fire but we keep Rusty’s buddy.. Live Nation….REALLY! Is this because your band, Mr. Russo will be the ongoing featured act headlining at the FOX..It usually is self serving isn’t it!
Moreover, Riverside will now pass its budget within the context of a five-year financial plan.
This approach to municipal budgeting is bound to find more potential issues that demand attention.
As we hold ourselves to a higher budgetary standard, The real challenge John and Marianna is to wean the general fund off the RPU gravy train.
Unfortunately, some perennial critics of the city have confused the cure (early diagnosis of future budget challenges) with the disease (a negative imbalance between ongoing expenses and ongoing revenue). These folks have been frightening some Riversiders by proclaiming loudly that the city faces imminent bankruptcy. It’s amazing to me that we are labeled critics when all we ask for is the truth. When you make truthful statement like “Fiscal Reckoning, and while the projected deficit numbers may seem scary, they are not surprising,” these statements scare the folks. Even though you are in the driver seat Mr. Russo we will still demand the truth.
Let us state unequivocally that the city of Riverside is not going bankrupt; in fact, the city could have continued on its prior path for many years without suffering financial doom. But we believe that our standard should be higher than the very “low bar” of “just don’t go bankrupt.” We are committed to a rational budget in which ongoing revenue meets ongoing expenses, and long-term capital needs, like road repair and tree trimming, are properly covered. Mr. Russo you cannot unequivocally state that the city is not going bankrupt. When you say the city need to be propped up. That sounds as dumb as Mike Gardner saying there were pots of gold. We could not exist without the propping up of public utilities.
You also state very clearly in this editorial that, budgeting practices are no longer sustainable, We are experiencing a Fiscal Reckoning of this magnitude, projected deficit numbers may seem scary, and Residents and business owners may hear things that make them uncomfortable, and perhaps even a bit nervous about Riverside’s financial health. You can lay it out any way you like but what the critics are absolutely sure about 100% is that the life line to the General Fund is Public Utilities. The General Fund needs to be propped up. This is a scary situation to be in. We are one legal challenge away from a disaster….. BANKRUPT! That’s the truth.
As Riverside moves through weeks of introducing, refining and, ultimately, approving a budget for fiscal years 2016-17 and 2017-18, there will be some bumps in the road. Residents and business owners may hear things that make them uncomfortable, and perhaps even a bit nervous about Riverside’s financial health. Mr. Russo you can make your case to the public any way you like, but there will be no new rate increases or new taxes. I can assure you of that. BRING IT ON!
We encourage everyone in Riverside to attend the council’s budget hearings or go to EngageRiverside.com to let us know what you think and be a part of that solution. Together, we will ensure that our city’s great past will be honored by an even greater future built upon sound and secure finances. What a joke! sound and secure finances were built on the backs of the RATE payers, overcharging and bilking Riverside Public Utilities has been going on for over a decade. The City Council is responsible for this entire fiasco. THEY OWN IT! The Perennial Critics encourage everyone to attend.
John A. Russo is Riverside city manager; Marianna Marysheva-Martinez is assistant city manager.
NOW FOR A LITTLE MUSIC TO SOOTHE THE SAVAGE BEAST…
VOTE VIVIAN MORENO MAYOR 2016, DON’T FORGET THE DEBATE TOMORROW NIGHT APRIL 28TH AT THE STRATTON CENTER (7:00PM TO 8:30PM), BORDWELL PARK, 2008 MARTIN LUTHER KING BLVD., RIVERSIDE.
According to RivPublic, anonymous contributor to Thirty Miles of Corruption, “And about Russo, the man rocks! Can play the electric guitar and keyboard (and kinda sing??). Maybe he could pull a rabbit out of his hat and find some $$$$ too!”
TMC, RATED RIVERSIDE’S REGIONAL COUNTIES MOST, “NEGATIVE,” “RAUNCHY,” “LOW CLASS,” “VISIONS OF GRANDEUR,” “FULL OF B.S.,” “IGNORANT,” “MISGUIDED,” “BULLYISH,” “FILTHY,” “SICK,” “PERVERTED,” “DEFAMATORY,” “STUPID,” “PATHETIC,” “DESPICABLE,” “DISAPPOINTING,” “BELOW THE BELT,” “A NEW LOW,” “SHOCKING,” “OFFENSIVE,” “OBNOXIOUS,” “INAPPROPRIATE,” “HURTFUL,” “MEAN SPIRITED,” “DISTASTEFUL,” “EMBARRASSING,” HORIFFIC,” “SLANDEROUS” “FIT TO BE VIEWED FROM THE REAR” AND
MEZZSPELLED, “MISSPELLED” AND “OPINIONATED” BLOG SITE! YES WE ADMIT WE OUR ALL OF THAT AND MORE, WHICH IN CURRENT TERMS IS KNOWN AS “UNPOLITICALLY CORRECT.” TEMPORARILY BLOCKED BY THE CITY OF RIVERSIDE AT PUBLIC ACCESS SITES WITHIN THE CITY, THEN UNBLOCKED. I GUESS YOU CANNOT DO THAT ACCORDING TO THE ACLU. RATED ONE TWO ONE STAR OUT OF FIVE IN TERMS OF COMMUNITY APPROVAL RATINGS.. … AGAIN, THANK YOU COMMUNITY OF RIVERSIDE AND THE CITY OF RIVERSIDE EMPLOYEE’S FOR YOUR SUPPORT! CONTACT US: email@example.com