The csmfoa award is given to any city that meets the minimum criteria and forks over cash. Anyone can review the the criteria.The first is, "Is there a table of contents?" and the last is, " Does document display exceptional format clarity & presentation effectiveness?" The review is about the document, not its contents.
What is absolutely bonkers is the City of Encinitas filed for the award for last year's budget. Why is it totally nutty? The budget that Dalager, Bonds, Stocks, and Houlihan approved in the last 2 year budget cycle was totally deficient for a huge chunk of the CSMFOA criteria.
They budget document was deficient regarding criteria Section A items 5, 6, 10, 14, 15, 18, & 19 and Section B items 3, 5, 10, 11, & 12 at the time the budget was made available for public discussion and adoption by the city council.
The budget had blank pages. Stop. Entire sections were left blank. These are important sections, so much so that the CSFMOA thinks they are minimum requirements in a budget, things like the list of capital improvement projects that are funded and projects that are unfunded. My favorite section, the section that outlines the budgetary assumptions... blank. That is the section that a council can use to "balance" there budget by using the magic of over-optimism. This is a highly overlooked part of the budget.
The budget was adopted weeks early and with lame explanations for the blank sections. Only Barth said no to this terrible way to proceed. Yeap, she's the crazy wild dissenter.
So how did the city get the award?
That's what Kevin C wondered and looked into. He first emailed Jennifer Smith, the city's director of finance at the city. When asked if the city got the award she wrote back yes. Then when asked if she turned in a budget document other than the one that was used for discussion and approved, no response.
The whole point of a good budget presentation is that the document helps the public and the council make informed decisions. Submitting a budget document other than what was used and approved smells really bad.
Jennifer must have thought so too. That is why she didn't respond to the question.
Kevin C followed up with the CSMFO and asked what had been submitted. Well, they couldn't even have imaged that a city would do what the City of Encinitas did. The city turned in a different document than the one the four council members approved. The CSMFO had no rules against it but they sure realized that it was wrong.
Melisa Dixon of CSMFO wrote:
...the CSMFO Executive Committee discussed your email this afternoon during its meeting, and the matter continues to be under review.Later,
Note to city: when you don't respond to questions the public will think the worst of things. In this case they were right.
We have updated our forms on the website to indicate that they are certifying that the budget being presented to CSMFO is the same budget presented to City Council.