Oxnard’s A Tale of Two Budgets



By Phillip S. Molina

Often I hear the public asking questions about the financial condition of Oxnard: how much cash is in each fund, how much of the police budget has already been spent, where can we find unused funds for our project(s), etc.?

You keep asking, but get little results. The Mayor and Council appear stuck on “the big picture” wanting only to see ‘dashboard’ type information, but not wanting to deal with the “nitty gritty” of daily city business. That attitude results in staff designing a brief, very brief condensed monthly financial report, less than 5 pages. The Mayor and Council made it clear that they  do not want the staff to provide them the list of invoices that will be paid, or the details of the wired payments for settlements the city staff have concluded, or the amount of the departmental budgets that have already been spent, etc.

So, the city finance staff have designed a monthly financial report consistent with that attitude. It shows three thermometers (see attached report) that condense, compress and squeezes all financial data for the city of over 200,000 into those ‘dashboards’, and we the public are expected to find useful tools of information from the 3 thermometers. hmmm?

OK, so now let’s compare Oxnard’s monthly financial report with the monthly financial report for the City of Thousand Oaks. This report is also presented to their Mayor, City Council and the Thousand Oaks public each month. That report, which is also attached, shows the level of details that many well-run cities provide to their Mayors and Council because those Mayors and Council demand that type of financial data of their staff. I have no doubt Oxnard’s finance staff can produce the same level of detail and summary information as Thousand Oaks does, given both Oxnard and Thousand Oaks currently use the same finance software from Superion.

Well I leave it to you to look at the two reports are below.

If you want a quick read, you will like Oxnard’s report.

If you want to know what is happening to your tax dollars and you want to make sure the staff and Mayor and Council are in fact using your tax dollars properly and you want to decide how much of the detail you want to use, you, like me will prefer the Thousand Oaks version of the monthly financial report.

Let your Mayor and Council know if you want them making financial decisions impacting $100,000,000 of your tax dollars based on three thermometers, or if you demand they act at the level of responsibility you placed on them when you voted for them and demand they become knowledgeable about how Oxnard’s money is really being used by demanding the same type of monthly financial report for Oxnard that Thousand Oaks Mayor, Council and public receive.

The Reports

Oxnard’s March 2018 monthly financial report      PDF B&W DS –05232018103459

Phillip S. Molina is the current Oxnard City Treasurer

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