Cleaning up Unfunded Liability

Wednesday, June 18, 2014 Written by 
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The council adopted a resolution, giving Mayor James Butts the authority to sign all subsequent documents independent of the City Council in regard to grant applications for the 2014 Competitive Excess Funds Grant Program. The grants will help fund various Parks, Recreation and Library Services programs. “If the council authorizes me to sign, it doesn’t have to come back signed by me, and then back to the council (to approve) something they (already) authorized me to sign,” the mayor explained. 

Agreements were approved for Residential Sound Insulation in regard to noise testing services ($40,947); sound insulation work on 135 homes ($3,321,475 plus $166,074 contingency and $54,540 special expenses); and a contract for RSI Phase I, Group 24J to work on 119 homes ($2,016,000 plus $150,800 contingency and $48,076 special expenses). An agreement was also approved with the Housing Rights Center to provide fair housing counseling and housing discrimination services in the amount of $57,300.

Five public hearings were set for July. On July 8, the council will consider the annual levy and collections of the In-Town Maintenance Assessment District No. 1975-1; Morningside Park Maintenance Assessment District 1974-2; Darby Dixon Maintenance Assessment District 1987-1; and Inglewood Street Lighting Assessment District 1980-1. A hearing will be held on July 22 to consider adoption of the Zoning Code Amendment to modify regulations for the Live-Work units. All hearings will be held at 7pm.

One hearing that the public is looking forward to will take place next Tuesday, June 24. The council will consider an appeal of the Planning Commission’s decision to deny a liquor license to Dollar Store. “We don’t need all these liquor licenses here. Those liquor licenses have to stop,” said Ethel Austin.Assistant City Manager/CIO Mike Falkow updated the public on progress in conjunction with unfunded medical liabilities which is costing the City a fortune. 

First, the bad news:“Up until today the bargaining units had agreed to the benefit of a medical payment for (each) employee and their spouse for the remainder of their life, once they retired. That has caused a liability. Retirees live considerably longer. The City of Inglewood has 1,000 people in the system as retirees, receiving full medical benefits no matter how long they’ve been retired...no matter if they reached 65 and are eligible for Medicare, the City is still on the hook for that benefit. If no further  employees were to get that, the City would still be on the hook for approximately $117 million dollars.” If the current deal were to stand and be extended to Inglewood employees who have not yet retired, the bill would be well in excess of $317 million, Falkow said.

“That would bankrupt the City of Inglewood and would take us to insolvency within a handful of years.” The better news is that the City has successfully negotiated with most employee unions, which will save Inglewood millions of dollars. Several concessions were made to employee associations representing Inglewood executives, management, police, and civilian police management, including a retirement savings plan with matching City funds. To satisfy recent changes in state pension fund requirements, the council approved a salary ordinance amendment. The amendment will allow pay increases for employees. The City will then use the increases to pay into the state pension fund on their behalf. 

Inglewood Parks and Recreation Commissioner Willie Agee wants the unions “brought under control.” I see unions putting people on councils and it’s not good for the country,” he said. City Manager Artie Fields announced that a new mural will be unveiled this Saturday, June 21 from 2-4pm in Darby Park, 3400 Arbor Vitae St. The Darby  Park Action Mural, paid for by a grant, was created by youth ages 13-21. City Clerk Yvonne Horton reminded everyone about the Connecting Women to Power business conference this Friday, June 20 from 8:30am to 5pm at Cal State University, Dominguez Hills. For details, call (888) 847-9652. 

City Treasurer Wanda Brown praised the council and staff for working to find a solution to the looming debt created in part by lifetime medical benefits. “A lot of cities are in that ‘leaky boat.’ Stockton did away with all of their medical for retirees because they had to file bankruptcy,” she said. Brown also reminded everyone about plans to hold a series of workshops on financial literacy. Stay tuned for details.

Michel Benbow wants something done about illegal vendors who create excessive noise and pose a possible threat to children in the community. “These (food) truck vendors come around with loud noises, high above the decibel level (allowed). Some vendors are ringing bells and blowing whistles and getting attention of people walking down the street. They are trying to get people to the street to sell them one thing or another. They don’t have a license to be on the street, attracting people (including kids) to their vehicles. I want to call code enforcement out on this one. I have seen at least 3 on my block.”

A resident complained about an eyesore directly across the street from the Forum at Manchester and Prairie: “The parking lot looks so dirty, and I am so surprised we are letting it stay here. The weeds are this long from the concrete,” she said. “We have been in contact with the new owner of the property. I agree with you and I see it every day on my way to work,” the mayor said.A woman was not happy about what she perceived as a snub by the mayor and council members of a long time Inglewood resident. The mother of regular council meeting attendee Leroy Fisher recently passed away. She was concerned that no one showed up at the funeral. “Take a little time to take care of us, here. He is a member of this community.”

“The reason we were not there, is because we were not notified. I know if I had known, I would have been there as well as other members of the council. You should have asked and we would have told you. We have to know and most of the time, people let us know,” Mayor Butts said. Councilman George Dotson thanked the public for coming out to the last town hall meeting. He encouraged everyone to share the information gathered at the meetings with their neighbors. 

Councilman Ralph Franklin announced that Hollywood Park Tomorrow will have the first in a series of community information meetings on Thursday, June 19 at 7pm, at the Hollywood Park Casino, 3883 W. Century Blvd. Morales said in response to a comment made earlier about streets in Inglewood being fixed because it is an election year, “At the end of the day, work is getting done. It’s good news.” “Instead of saying, ‘finally we are getting the streets done.’ and being grateful, someone feels there’s a conspiracy. We’re doing this because of an election. 

There are elections every year; everything we do is going to coincide with an election,” Councilmember Alex Padilla said. “Mrs. Horton, aren’t there elections every two years? We would have to pick and choose when we fix the streets and work around the elections. We are doing things when we can afford to do them,” Butts added. Morales announced the recent preschool graduation at Lockhaven Community Center. The ceremony was almost cut due to budget constraints, but parents pulled together and helped save the graduation. 

A woman wanted to know what the time boundaries are for fireworks. How long can fireworks been fired after July 4th? How late can they be ignited? “We all hear fireworks when (it’s inappropriate). It’s a terrible part of the 4 July. When people use illegal fireworks, Safe and Sane takes the hit for it, and the nonprofits that benefit from them, which is why we do it. If you see illegal fireworks, call (310) 412-8771,” Morales said. Mayor Butts referred to the article about firework safety which ran last week in  Inglewood Today. “We are trying to raise the consciousness of the community and let people know what is legal or not,” he said.

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