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Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Council Puts Focus on the Books

• Considers Reappointing Former City Treasurer

BY BILL KOENEKER

The Malibu City Council is being asked next week to put some controls on its spending habits.
The council’s Administration and Finance Subcommittee comprised of Councilmembers Lou La Monte and John Sibert, who is running for reelection, are trying to tighten the city’s belt in the way of expenditures and is seeking the power to review the spending habits of the council when it is an allocation of more than $10,000.
In 2001, according to Assistant City Manager Reva Feldman a council policy was adopted to establish levels of budgetary control and fund transfers.
“A policy has never been adopted that addresses council appropriations,” Feldman noted in a memo to council members.
Last year, the A&F Subcommittee, while reviewing the current budget, talked about whether a new formal procedure should be developed to review all future appropriations prior to discussion and approval by the city council.
The A&F Subcommittee recommended that an informal procedure should be followed and that whenever it was feasible,
appropriations that exceed $5000 should be presented to A&F prior to going before the council.
“However, since that recommendation was made several appropriations above $5,000 have been made by the council without review by the A&F Subcommittee,” added Feldman.
This year, the panel discussed whether the council should adopt a formal policy that would require future appropriations be reviewed by A&F prior to being discussed and approved by the council.
The subcommittee recommended that the council adopt a policy that requires all appropriations over $10,000 be reviewed by the subcommittee prior to being presented and approved by the council.
The proposed policy establishes that a written recommendation from the A&F Subcommittee be included in staff recommendations regarding appropriations.
It was agreed that in the event that an A&F meeting cannot be held prior to publishing the council agenda, the subcommittee shall meet and review the recommendation prior to the city council meeting and a verbal report from the A&F Subcommittee shall be presented to the city council regarding the proposed appropriation.
In other money matters, the city council is poised next week to approve hiring Pete Lippman as city treasurer. The agreement calls for $250 a month for 10 hours of services.
Additional tasks will be paid at the rate of $40 an hour, according to the staff report.
The city treasurer is responsible for the safe deposit of all moneys in the custody of the municipality and perform all of the duties prescribed by law and as may be assigned by the city council, according to the staff report prepared by Assistant City Manager Reva Feldman, who noted the city requires a city treasurer to be responsible for oversight of the city’s finances and investments. The position requires approximately 10 hours of work a month and the duties include providing investment recommendations, review of warrants city’s finances.
Additional services may be required on an as-needed basis.
Malibu’s previous City Treasurer Lily Ruff, was appointed by the Council in 2006. Ruff passed away in mid-2011. Since her passing, the city manager has been serving as the acting city treasurer.
Lippman served as the city treasurer from 1996 to 2004. Lippman is a Malibu resident with a strong background in fiscal management, investing, auditing and municipal finance, according to Feldman
“Mr. Lippman has provided the city with a proposal to serve as the city treasurer at the rate of $250 a month for 10 hours of work a month,” wrote Feldman, in a memo to the council.
In other action, the council next week will be asked to consider whether to direct staff to prepare an urgency ordinance banning chain stores in Malibu.
It is a proposed ordinance by outgoing Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich, who now wants the council to consider a measure now before she leaves office.
The planning staff is scheduled to bring a related item to the council at its regular meeting on March 26. The panel is requesting direction on if the staff should begin creating an ordinance requiring commercial diversification to start the public review process and should staff create an ordinance allowing a floor-area-ratio, or FAR, increase for commercial development that provides dedicated tenant space to local community serving businesses.

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