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Local News

Grand Jury Report Finds Guadalupe Financial Status Sees Modest Improvement

The city of Guadalupe has seen a modest improvement to its financial woes, but still struggles, the Santa Barbara County Civil Grand Jury said in a report released Monday.

In the report, “Guadalupe Fiscal Reform,” the panel provided an assessment of the small city’s financial health, as a follow-up to earlier reviews.

“The Jury found that Guadalupe’s fiscal performance has improved modestly,” the report said. 

The watchdog agency noted several previous grand juries had examined deficiencies in the city’s fiscal management, and said the new report was an updated analysis. 

“Guadalupe does not generate enough General Fund revenue from the sources on which most cities rely (property, sales and transient occupancy taxes) to provide basic administrative and safety services while maintaining a positive General Fund balance,” the panel noted in one finding.

In response to its fiscal woes, the City Council asked voters in November 2014 to approve three tax measures to generate revenue, with each one easily passing.

Members of the 2017-2018 grand jury found the three measures did have a positive impact on revenue in Guadalupe, crediting them with helping increase per-capita revenue from $457 in 2014-15, to $480 in 2015-16, to $525 in 2016-17, and to a projected value of $573 in 2017-18, the report said.

Grand jurors noted that an independent auditor had questioned in March 2018 whether gas tax funds were being used inappropriately, which prompted the panel to express concern about whether the city “may have used restricted monies from Measure A and Gas Tax funds to finance its General Fund and other fund deficits.”

The panel recommended that the City Council of Guadalupe analyze the Measure A, Gas Tax, and Enterprise Funds to determine if those accounts were used to loan monies outside the cost allocation plans for 2016-17 and 2017-18.

Those loans allegedly went to the General Fund, Library Fund, Wastewater Treatment Fund and Solid Waste fund, the panel said. 

Once those amounts are determined, grand jurors said called upon the City Council to pass a resolution and a repayment plan regarding any questioned funds.

The Guadalupe City Council has 90 days to respond to the report.

Click here to read the full Santa Barbara County Civl Grand Jury report. 

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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