Burbank officials criticize fiscal report

Burbank fared poorly in a report evaluating the financial health of cities in Los Angeles County, but city officials said this week the rankings were an inaccurate representation of the city's fiscal situation.

The report — put together by a civil grand jury composed of 23 volunteers — evaluated the financial health of the 88 cities in Los Angeles County using data collected from the cities.

Of the 77 fully ranked cities, Burbank ranked 69th in net revenue as a percentage of the city's total funds, since total expenditures exceeded total revenues by $35.2 million in fiscal year 2011-12, the report said. In net revenues for the General Fund, which pays for most public services, Burbank ranked 68th with expenditures exceeding revenues by $17.6 million that same year.

The city ranked 67th in unassigned General Fund balance, essentially its rainy-day or emergency fund, according to the report.

In change in General Fund balance, or the extent to which the fund is increasing or decreasing, Burbank ranked 58th. The city's General Fund balance dropped $14.3 million to $85.5 million at the end of fiscal year 2011-12 when compared to the beginning, the report said.

The city fared better in terms of its ratio of assets to liabilities and change in net assets from the beginning of the year to the end. In both categories, Burbank ranked 40th. The city increased its net assets by nearly $106 million between the beginning of fiscal year 2011-12 and the end.

City officials said this week they were disappointed in the lack of depth of the report.

“What it was showing is not the Burbank I know,” Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy said Monday.

In May, Burbank received a “AAA” credit rating — the highest rating possible — from Wall Street's biggest credit rating firm, Standard & Poor's, which officials said was a better indicator of the city's financial stability. The firm had cited the city's “strong local economy and steady tax-base growth.”

Assistant City Manager Justin Hess said that the city is maintaining its reserves, paying down its pension liability and generating a diverse set of revenues, factors which the report doesn't touch upon.

“I don't think it gives an accurate representation of the city's true financial health,” Hess said. “We're positioned fairly well.”


Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.


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