City's comprehensive annual financial report highly touted

DOWNEY - The City Council at its regular public meeting on Tuesday last week received and filed the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) summarizing the city's financial activities and the results of its operations for the period July 1, 2007 thru June 30, 2008. It is prepared annually by the department of finance headed by John Michicoff.According to Michicoff, his finance department takes pains to make sure the CAFR is easily readable, efficiently organized, and reflective of a high level of quality in its reporting and underlying accounting systems. Because it follows these guidelines closely, the department last year received a certificate of achievement for excellence in financial reporting from the prestigious Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada. Michicoff expects no less from its FY2007-08 CAFR. The format features three sections: introductory, financial and statistical. The introductory section contains a Letter of Transmittal to the Council, which is believed to be the easiest part of the report for the average reader to understand. The transmittal letter first gives a general background of Downey and a glimpse of its basic municipal services (police, fire, public works, recreational, library and cultural programs, etc.). Then follows a rundown on the difficult economic environment Downey has been operating in. This includes a troubling unemployment rate for the Los Angeles metropolitan area of 7.7 percent, which is higher than the national rate of 6.5 percent, although lower than the 8.2 rate (as of October 2008) in the state of California. It cites other problems: the collapse of the financial and credit markets, the housing market's freefall, reduced consumer spending. The economic uncertainties are moreover exacerbated by the budget breakdown in Sacramento. But despite all this, Michicoff is optimistic that things will turn around. (Indeed, there is at least one bright note that leaps out of the report: "for the General Fund, actual revenues of $71.4 million exceeded final budgeted revenues of $64.5 million, while expenditures were $65 million, $3.9 million less than the final budgeted expenditures of $68.9 million." Michicoff pins his hopes on the fact that "city staff has worked diligently to retain and attract existing or new business that will continue to provide an economic stimulus to our local economy." (Example: the Porto's Bakery arrangement). He points to other positive developments: the 160-acre former Boeing property redevelopment project (over $20 million of property improvements so far, including the Columbia Memorial Space Center and the Discovery Sports Complex) is "in progress"; the Downey Landing Retail Center has "performed positively"; the construction of new regional medical facilities "continues as planned," as well as street/traffic flow improvements. Further, "due to the cyclical fluctuation of the movie industry, the city and Industrial Realty Group (IRG) are evaluating the redevelopment of Downey Studio to a high-end retail mixed use project. Also, the City Council plans to initialize the new downtown specific plan to revitalize the downtown in 2009." Formal deliberations on the FY2009-2010 city budget have been tentatively scheduled to begin towards the end of May. We will know better then the contours the city's envisioned directions will shape. In other action, the Council: •Set a public hearing for Feb. 10 on the 2009-10 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and the Home Investment Partnership Grant (HOME) Programs, both federal grants earmarked for housing and community development activities which primarily benefit low and moderate income residents; •Approved the budget calendar for the 2009-10 budget which covers the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2009 and ends on June 30, 2010; the calendar establishes various deadlines so the budget can be completed in a timely manner and in accordance with the city charter; after a series of study sessions both by the Council and staff, a public hearing on the budget is tentatively scheduled for June 23, 2009, and, hopefully, adoption by the Council; •Approved the amendment to the professional services agreement with Granicus, Inc., extending the current agreement to June 30, 2009 for internet streaming of City Council/Community Development Commission meetings; •Adopted the investment policy for public funds of the city of Downey and its related entities; included are guidelines for the prudent investment of the city's cash and for maximizing the efficiency of its cash management system; •Approved the extension of the agreement with Lehman, Levi, Pappas and Sadler from Jan.31, 2009 to Jan. 31, 2010 for general advocacy services in Sacramento; •Approved and appropriated $94,000 for the purchase and installation of an LED electronic message center and changing the facing of the Downey Civic Center sign at the Embassy Suites Hotel; •Approved the agreement for special legal services with Liebert Cassidy Whitmore for personnel-related matters (especially labor relations); •Adopted a resolution approving the reappointment of Dianne Lumsdaine to the Downey City Hospital Commission for Council District One; •Adopted an ordinance adding Chapter 7 to Article VIII of the Downey Municipal Code requiring registration and maintenance of vacant and abandoned property; •Approved City Council committee assignments for 2009; •Proclaimed, Jan. 16, Religious Freedom Day; and •Conferred a certificate of recognition to the city's Water Conservation Outreach Campaign. The next regular public meeting of the Council will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 27 at City Hall, 111l1 Brookshire Ave. ********** Published: January 23, 2009 - Volume 7 - Issue 40