City Council will once again discuss how to handle a reported $38,671.20 spent by city staff on items related to the city's centennial year at its regularly scheduled Tuesday night meeting.
Bruce Moe, city finance director, told Patch that none of the expenditures in the $38,671.20 were authorized or approved by the city's centennial committee, a group of volunteers selected by a previous Council to raise funds to support centennial celebrations approved by, planned for and executed by the committee. He called any inkling to view the $38,671.20 as money spent by the centennial committee a "misrepresentation."
Said Councilman Nick Tell, who is on the centennial committee, "This is not a situation where the centennial committee did not pay for stuff that they should have paid for; it's a situation in which the city incurred this amount on behalf of the centennial under the decision made by the city manager and does the city council want to overrule the city manager and ask for the centennial to pay it back."
Items listed as expenditures include food for centennial committee meetings, a newspaper ad for the city's picnic and parade, parade photos, a bus to bring youngsters from Compton to participate in the parade, parade clean-up and insurance, street pole banners promoting the city's centennial and electrical upgrades.
"Hopefully, we'll be able to just simply discuss it [the $38,671.20] in the right context and make sure everyone understands what happened here and then we can debate from there going forward: Do you want to try to force the centennial committee to pay back some of these things that were supposed to be paid for by the city?" Tell said.
Late last year, city council debated whether or not $10,000 the city presented to the centennial committee to launch it financially was a loan or a gift of seed money, ultimately voting to make it a gift.
According to Tell, the question now is does city council want to say the centennial committee should pay for the $38,671.20 in expenses that were "incurred by the city under the authority of the city manager?"
Tell says the staff report on the matter does not make any of this information "very clear."
"They [city council] can ask it," he said, "but they're [the centennial committee] not under any obligation to do so [pay for any of the $38,671.20]."
As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the centennial committee has its own set of rules and by-laws and governs itself accordingly.
According to the city staff report, the centennial committee has a combined net balance of $7,664.19 in checking and savings accounts.
Tell, who along with council member Amy Howorth represents city council on the centennial committee [she replaced council member Richard Montgomery who resigned after city council voted to cancel the committee's remaining events once the centennial parade and picnic were held in May], said he thinks the centennial committee has fallen prey to politics.
"As you pointed out," he said, "what's the point of doing it [discussing whether or not the centennial committee should be asked to reimburse the city for any of the expenses they did not authorize], but I do think a couple members of council, especially one in particular who's up for re-election is trying to use this as part of his political platform. And it's unfortunate that that's what the centennial has become."
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