Water won’t wash out red ink (September 23, 2016)

How much more do taxpayers need to hear before they recognize the financial issues affecting the Town of Apple Valley? This is not about water, it is about money.

During the Daily Press Candidate Forum, both councilmen (Bishop and Cusack) stated the reserves were presently just under $4 million. No matter how they try to couch their statements and excuses, there is only one take-away from this: The Town is broke.

Just look at the budget balances beginning July 1, 2016. Each of these funds starts the month with a deficit:

Parks and Recreation ($ 6,628,974)
Gas Tax ($ 544,699)
Article 3 ($ 164,416)
CDBG ($ 7,594)
Police Grants ($ 1,951)
Golf Course ($ 3,522,237)
RDA Successor Agency ($ 464,155)
Total Beginning Deficit ($ 11,334,026)

Some deficits may be offset by incoming funds during the year, and by reducing current year funding, but nothing will make a substantial reduction in the deficit. Looking just at Parks and Recreation and the Golf Course, if the entire $4 million in reserves were applied to these balances, the town would still be $6.1 million in the red. This assumes the Council does not continue to make more unbudgeted expenditures, of course.

The last time around, the budget was balanced by transferring $7.5 million to the general fund, mostly from Trash and Sewer funds. The Town is now being sued for the improper use of those funds, but there are no contingency monies to cover the most likely outcome of having to pay back millions to those funds, plus all the legal costs, plus anything else that comes up during the trial.

Then there are the untold millions (perhaps as high as $16 million) the town collected for low/mod housing. The staff told Council in 2011-2012 they needed to build almost 3,900 housing units by 2016, an obligation the Town took on by accepting these housing funds. Where are those funds, and does anyone doubt the state or feds might want their money back? The only thing we know for a fact is that the Town hasn’t built — or even started construction on — those housing units.

Also missing is budgeting for the alleged $8.3 million unfunded pension liability (and maybe more), which continues to increase daily due to the CalPERS $290 billion deficit.

Current council can continue trying to wash their hands with water, but taxpayers would be wise to start saving their pennies, or vote for some new fiscally-prudent representatives.

— Leane Lee, Apple Valley, CA