A Deeper Dive Into the Finance Commission Initiative

Finance Commission Initiative – Measure A

No one on the current Los Gatos Council has professional financial training.  In the past 20 years, we have only found one who has.  There have been several business persons who have served.  The current Finance Committee is hamstrung with narrowly defined areas of finance of which they are allowed to review and discuss with Council. Even those are prescribed by the Town Manager. The initiative opens the town’s finances to become more transparent to the Finance Commission and the public.  If approved by you, the Finance Commission will be able to fully advise the Council.  The initiative also will protect the Commission from the political whims of those with personal agendas.  They will continue to be strictly advisory to the Council who will  make all final decisions.

 

Below are just some of the reasons we need this Finance Commission.  All of the numbers in these graphs come from the Town’s audited financials from fiscal years 2015 and 2019.  In just four years, net total governmental spending now equals our total general tax revenues.

  • In FY 2015 the Town’s net total government spending was $17.8m.Four years later, it was $30.5m – up 72%.
  • In 2015 the General Fund’s tax revenues exceeded net operating expenses by $5.9m. The approved General Fund budget for FY 21 on the same basis has a deficit of $590,000.  We’re headed in the wrong direction.

net total government spending

 

Pension and Health benefits have blown up for Los Gatos just as they have for most municipalities, increasing by $14,428,000, or 20% in 4 years.
Pension benefits alone rose 37%

 

The expenses associated with pensions have increased accordingly, rising from $3,247,000 to over $ 9,000,000 annually.

That’s an increase of  180%

 

With a total fund revenue and transfers-in FY 21 budget of $66.6m and a 5-year capital improvement program budget of $58.5m, Los Gatos’ financial picture is increasingly complex and faces significant challenges ahead – not the least of which is dealing with the fallout of the Covid 19 pandemic.

These 3 graphs are representative of why we think the citizen group is necessary.  The Finance Commission will be made up of  5 Los Gatos citizens with a financial background.  They will be advising our Council who, in general have a good mix of non-financial backgrounds.  We think this mix will provide the town with a good balance moving forward, With Measure A the Finance Commission will not have to be looking over their shoulders for special interests who might limit what they look into. Los Gatos books will become more transparent and more understandable to the general public.

If you agree with us, please go back to the email an give us your permission to add you to our list of endorsees.

3 Responses

  1. John Mittelstet

    I am for this initiative. It is long overdue. As the graph on pensions amplifies.

    There is at least one wording change I would make to the initiative introduction:
    Change: “The Finance Commission will be composed of 5 citizens appointed by the Council with financial backgrounds.” (Seems like only Council members with financial backgrounds can make appointments)
    to:
    “The Finance Commission will be composed of 5 citizens with financial backgrounds, appointed by the Council.”
    or to:
    “The Town Council will appoint all the members of the Finance Commission which will be composed of 5 citizens who have backgrounds in finance.”

    • Jak

      Hi John, You are correct in that I stated that very awkwardly. I have changed it to read much more clearly. Thanks for noting that error.

  2. Jennifer Colson

    I wasn’t aware of any of this. Thanks for outlining both the problem and proposing a solution.

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