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City ranks middle of the pack in county fiscal health ratings

Santa Clarita official says county’s methodology faulty

Posted: August 5, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 5, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Santa Clarita was ranked in the middle of the pack in a fiscal health review of cities in Los Angeles County, but a city official said the methodology for the report does not provide a complete picture of Santa Clarita’s financial state.

Santa Clarita ranked 36th out of the 88 county cities in terms of fiscal health, according to a report from the Los Angeles County Civil Grand Jury.

But those rankings were determined by review of two fiscal years of city finances, 2010-2011 and 2011-2012, and responses to a “Best Practices Questionnaire,” not by a comprehensive review of finances, said Darren Hernandez, deputy city manager and chief financial officer for the city of Santa Clarita.

“The report prepared by the Civil Grand Jury was neither an audit nor an in-depth review of the finances of any city,” Hernandez said Friday.

The report surveyed city financial data over the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 fiscal years and responses to the questionnaire, which asked cities a variety of questions regarding financial practices, oversight and reporting.

Santa Clarita had 75 percent of its responses to the questionnaire ranked “positive,” a number that placed it in the middle of the pack, according to the report.

The highest-rated city, Redondo Beach, had 97 percent positive responses while the lowest-rated, the cities of Cudahy and Industry, had only 28 percent positive responses.

But Hernandez said examining a two-year window does not provide enoughcontext to get a firm grasp on city finances.

“Every year we do a much more in-depth review of our finances than is included in the report, including preparing five-year projections to ensure that we remain operationally balanced and comply with the very conservative fiscal approach desired by the City Council,” Hernandez said.
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