Council Considers Forming Budget Advisory Panel

The city of San Marino’s budgeting process isn’t the easiest thing to make sense of, so the City Council is considering forming a committee of a few citizens to pore over the numbers, ask questions of staff members and ascertain if there are ways through which greater savings can be achieved.
A three-man remnant of the council — Mayor Eugene Sun, Vice Mayor Dr. Allan Yung and Dr. Richard Sun — discussed the matter at a meeting last week in the absence of two colleagues and decided to table the matter until the council’s next scheduled meeting on Oct. 14.
“I put this on the agenda because at past council meetings, citizens expressed their desire to make the budgeting more open and transparent,” Eugene Sun said. “I don’t see any drawbacks in having a committee [for] maybe 90 days, 120 days. And if they give the city’s budgeting process a clean bill of health, that will just verify that you guys (staffers) are doing good work. If they make suggestions, that is beneficial.”
Richard Sun further suggested that city staff begin the “budget discussion earlier than late, so there is sufficient time for the citizens to give their input.” Yung agreed.
San Marino’s current fiscal-year budget runs through June of 2016. Discussions on the next budget are expected to be initiated in January.
Resident Hal Harrigian suggested that the city conduct a “management audit” of various departments. “I’ve never gone into an organization that couldn’t use some improvement,” he said, adding, “You get into a habit of doing something year after year, and sometimes don’t realize there’s a way you could be doing it better.”
Gene Ruckh urged the council to consider using “a zero-based budget from time to time rather than baseline, so as to reevaluate what you’re spending money on.”
Dave Lipps suggested that budget information be placed online, by department, with emails of department heads, City Manager John Schaefer and the new committee, “so residents will be able to give feedback. There are a lot of people in the community who could provide input.”

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