By Cherie Brower IStaff WriterI
Money talks, and the federal court is now demanding answers from the financially floundering city of San Bernardino.
Following the notorious municipal bankruptcy protection filing of 2012, San Bernardino has failed to produce a successful audit of its 2012-13 fiscal year.
In the face of a $45 million deficit, an increase in costs, and a downward spiral in revenues, San Bernardino filed for Chapter 9 in 2012.
A bankruptcy plan was set into place, with provisions to aid the city in regaining a footing on the forlorn financial outlook.
It has now been over three years since the initial declaration and the City of San Bernardino has yet to produce a successful audit for Fiscal Year 2012-13.
The audit was previously projected to reach completion at the end of May 2015.
The current San Bernardino audit is set to conclude in November. Mayor Carey Davis has stated that this deadline is “not unrealistic,” and he has been working closely with City Council members to ensure timely completion.
At the San Bernardino City Council meeting on Oct. 5, many residents could be seen outside City Hall holding signs of protest.
One protester held a sign which read: “Bring in the F.B.I./ Complete the audits!”
According to CSUSB Professor Dr. Thomas Pierce, the audit process is always lengthily. “Audits relate to the review of the books,” explained Pierce. Information is key in all aspects, and “it can take the federal court a few years to review all of the pertinent information,” said Pierce.
Judge Meredith Jury, from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, has advised the City of San Bernardino that detailed fiscal information must be provided to the federal court, as a show of good faith and commitment to organize a path out of municipal bankruptcy.
A number of services funded by the city, such as public safety and city maintenance, took a hit with the downfall of San Bernardino’s finances in 2012.
The San Bernardino police force was cut to 264 officers, as opposed to the 2009 force of 350 officers.
With a lack of sufficient funding, many county jobs and services were no longer provided, or provided at a degree far below previous capacity.
Residents took note.
Some residents hold out cautious optimism for the future.
“We are bouncing back from the financial downturn of the county,” said CSUSB student Justin Shadel. “I have seen the new housing tracks behind the Glen.”
“However, I have also seen the freshly paved side streets that nobody ever seems to use. It seems like a waste of city money,” continued Shadel.
Funds are now available for the city to repair and replace waterline infrastructures, pipelines, and water pumping stations.
New police officers are now sought for hire, and the city is currently reviewing internal options for fire services.
“Improvement can take time, but stabilization is a slow and steady process,” according to Pierce.according to Pierce.
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