Each year the Palm Springs annual budget appears on the City Council agenda during the first meeting in June for the required “hearing”. Then again on the agenda of the second meeting in June for its adoption. Despite the 292 pages in the budget documents and the $97,514,596 size of the Appropriations Summary totals, there’s little discussion and it sails through the proceedings faster than a request for a new traffic signal.
This year’s budget documents are divided into three sections consisting of:
….. Appropriations Summary data – 100 pages
….. Positions and Compensation Plan – 100 pages
….. Comprehensive Fee Schedule – 92 pages
The Appropriations Summary section is not all numbers and spreadsheet data. The second half includes copies of all the letters and other data provided by those seeking donations of taxpayer funds as Contributions and for Special Events. It’s a section with sufficient narrative detail to interest those who otherwise care little for accounting numbers and spreadsheets. The $97,514,596 supporting figures in the first half are probably the ones of most interest to financial analysts and others concerned by the lack of transparency associated with city finances.
Residents of Palm Springs are being shortchanged by the speedy procedures that serve to swiftly move the near-secretive budget process towards approval. The city has many different boards, commissions and committees but none exist to oversee the city’s finances. There are no independent eyes watching the budget preparation process, no opportunities to interview departments and learn the specifics supporting individual appropriations, and no ongoing monitoring of budgeted expenditures. The budget process is one of the most critical functions of city government and in Palm Springs it’s one that’s done behind closed doors.
One of the greatest services new city council members could perform would be to seriously consider the manner in which city finances and the budget occur without a lot of independent scrutiny. We need a watchdog team of qualified individuals to work with the city to make the finance and budgetary activities completely transparent and one that benefits from outside scrutiny. It’s time for a continuing Board, Commission or Committee to be chartered by the city council to serve as independent guardians of the finance and budgetary processes. As for those seeking election to city government positions, they should be questioned by all to learn their views of this subject.
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Access June 17th City Council meeting agenda -use following link.
http://www.palmspringsca.gov/ /Com /Calendar/Event/9748/526
Access Budget Part 1 document using the following link.
Access Budget Part 2 document using the following link.
Access Budget Part 3 document using the following link.