Guadalupe council angered by disincorporation pitch
April 16, 2015
Guadalupe City Council members are not happy with the Santa Barbara County Grand Jury’s recommendation to disband their city.
The Guadalupe City Council met Tuesday, shortly after the release of a grand jury report that describes city finances as a shell game and calls for the disincorporation of Guadalupe. Some council members called the grand jury report a “witch-hunt.”
Members of the council alleged the grand jury report was motivated by South Santa Barbara County interests. It also lacked substance, they said.
“They don’t know Guadalupe,” Councilman Ariston Julian said of the grand jury.
The grand jury report says Guadalupe has a history of unsustainable deficit spending and mismanagement by council members and staff who are uninterested, overworked or unqualified. The report also takes aim at the city’s longstanding practice of improper inter-fund transfers.
Last year, city administrator and former San Luis Obispo councilman, Andrew Carter, informed the Guadalupe council that city officials had been using illegal accounting tactics to cover up a structural deficit in the city’s general fund. For more than a decade, the city had been transferring money from special tax-based funds and enterprise funds, like water and sewer, to back fill general fund expenses.
Carter’s discovery revealed that the city had an ongoing deficit of about $725,000.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Carter said the grand jury report reveals nothing city officials do not already know and are working to fix. Everything talked about in the report was information city officials gave them, he said.
Carter also said Gaudalupe is back on solid ground. He plans to deliver a balanced budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
Gaudalupe voters passed three tax measures last November after Carter announced the city was running out of cash. The grand jury report says the increased revenue from the tax measures allows Guadalupe to limp along but does not provide enough money to fund essential changes to city operations.
The Grand Jury gave the Guadalupe City Council 90 days to respond to its report. The council decided Tuesday that Carter will work with the city attorney and two council members to write an official response to the grand jury report.
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