City Seeks Residents With Financial Prowess

The city is seeking residents with financial backgrounds to serve as advisers to an ad hoc committee tasked with developing a long-term financial plan for the city’s pension obligations and infrastructure needs.
The committee, composed of Mayor Dr. Richard Sun and Councilman Dr. Steven Huang, is set to be advised by interim City Manager Cindy Collins, City Treasurer Marina Wang, contracted Finance Director Misty Cheng and the community members. The resolution approved at the March 8 meeting calls for two community members to be appointed, although it was noted the committee will make the ultimate decision on the number.
“We’re going to ask residents with a background in long-term strategic financial planning, in the private or public sector,” Collins explained in a follow-up interview. “Here in San Marino, we have a community that is a wealth of this type of knowledge for us to tap into.”
Councilman Dr. Allan Yung suggested three community members when discussing the resolution, as a way to mirror the three advisers from city government.
“It will balance it out a bit and we need to have experience, as well,” Yung said.
Councilman Steve Talt noted that Sun and Huang would be free to have discretion on their choice of advisers and the resolution went to vote. It was unanimously approved, although Sun was absent from the meeting.
The committee and its advisers will work to determine how the city can most responsibly address the growing financial liability for its past and present employees enrolled in the California Public Employees Retirement System. Pension packages that began increasing in the late ’90s combined with several years of poor investment returns, have resulted in virtually all of the state’s governmental bodies being on the hook for much more money than is available.
Most recently, San Marino was shown to have about a $20 million shortfall for pension liabilities and currently pays an extra $1.4 million annually (on top of its primary $1.2 million investment) just to help bridge the gap. Both of those numbers are expected to rise substantially throughout at least the next decade.
There also is the issue of addressing the city’s aging infrastructure, for which the city currently allocates around $1.45 million annually. In a presentation at the end of January, Parks and Public Works Director Dan Wall recommended ideally increasing that to $5.5 million for each year, although he noted that was a long term goal and not a request for immediate changes.
Presently, Wall said the city has identified the need for approximately $13 million in infrastructure repairs or upgrades, and that figure could balloon to $26 million within the next decade if annual funding is not increased. The bulk of the current and proposed funding would be for road maintenance.
“The development of a long-range financial plan will require a team effort,” Collins said at the March 8 meeting, adding she expects the committee to take up to six months to come up with recommendations.
Collins said she is working to create a form to place on the city’s website, through which interested residents could throw their hats in the ring for consideration.
City Council Picks Firm For City Manager Search
After a brief delay, the City Council selected an outside firm to help recruit, interview and hire a permanent city manager.
The Sacramento-based firm CPS HR Consulting will coordinate the city manager search after the City Council awarded its bid on March 8. The city expects to pay $23,000 in base fees and reimbursements for the service.
Frank Rojas, a CPS staff member living in Riverside, will work directly with San Marino on recruiting for city manager. Vice Mayor Richard Ward said Rojas recently helped the City of Avalon recruit a manager.
“He is a very experienced recruiter,” Ward said. “The mayor of Avalon gave Mr. Rojas a very good review.”
Collins, who has served as the interim city manager since former City Manager John Schaefer retired in June, is not seeking the permanent job but plans to stay on as long as necessary in the transition. She will work with CPS throughout the process, which she expects to be finished by June or July.
Other Business
• The City Council introduced an ordinance to bar light trucks from passing through San Marino en route to their destinations.
Given the enthusiasm of the councilmembers who spoke on the issue, the ordinance seems likely to pass on the second reading and go into effect. It will ban vehicles weighing more than 6,000 pounds from passing through San Marino unless their route expressly starts or ends inside city limits.
“This will prevent heavier vehicles from cutting through San Marino when they don’t have a specific route,” Wall, who prepared the ordinance, explained. “It will certainly give the police department the power to stop these trucks from using San Marino as a shortcut.”
• An emergency ordinance to renew the city’s franchise agreement with AT&T for Public, Educational and Governmental Programming Access Fees also was introduced on March 8. The ordinance would amount to a renewal of AT&T’s agreement to pay 1% of its local service revenues to the city for use in public programming equipment.
• Consent Calendar items on a petition to designate 1470 Virginia Road a local historical landmark and then appealing a Planning Commission decision to permit the demolition of the home for a new one were delayed to the next meeting, for the purposes of information review. City staff recommended denying both, in keeping with a City Council vote in January.
• The City Council recognized children Ken Chin, Chloe Jiang, Kaitlyn Ho, Emily Hsiao, Thomas Avelar and Ashley Tanaka for winning Crowell Public Library’s bookmark contest. Library patrons may collect the bookmarks throughout the next year.
• The City Council recognized Boy Scout Troop 359’s newest Eagle Scouts Allen Liu, Cole Mallory, Christopher Stonnington and Thomas Tsai.

Leave a Reply