Banning has taken the advice and pleadings of its newest city treasurer to heart: the city’s Budget & Finance Committee, which was until the May 25 city council meeting an ad hoc committee, is now a standing committee that will soon set consistently scheduled meetings.
“I think it should happen regularly,” said the City Treasurer Alejandro Geronimo, who participated in the May 25 city council meeting via Zoom.
Geronimo was elected last November after his predecessor John McQuown retired after holding the post for 16 years.
He suggested that the committee should meet every other month, which he believes should be set “regularly” and could be cancelled if there is a lack of need for a meeting.
Mayor Pro Tem David Happe supported Geronimo’s request, citing a “pent-up demand” from a lack of opportunity to interact with the new city treasurer and hear opportunity to hear discussion between him and the head of finance. “In the effort of transparency and understanding, it’s called for. Whether we need it monthly or quarterly, the frequency will play itself out.”
City Manager Doug Schulze, trying to defend his already beleaguered skeleton crew from having to prepare for yet another meeting on the crowded monthly calendar, tried to encourage the committee to simply meet on an “as needed” basis.
Other city committees meet only when necessary, or when items come up that require a meeting: the Economic Development, Healthy Living City, Downtown Ad Hoc, Electric Cost of Service, Homelessness Advisory and Government Access Channel committees all meet on an “as needed” basis.
Mayor Colleen Wallace had little sympathy for adding extra work on already overwhelmed employees.
“You’re going to have to work a little harder,” she insisted. “I’m working a little harder. I’m tired. I be working hard” hitting the ground to meet with constituents, regularly representing the city out-of-town to encourage them to consider doing business with Banning — “and I ain’t even getting paid. Everybody else gets paid. They get paid good. If you are here to do the job, do the job.”
Kyle Pingree believes that updates from the Budget & Finance Committee could be conducted efficiently on a quarterly basis. “I don’t see why that wouldn’t be justified,” as opposed to monthly meetings.
Geronimo: “In any organization, any public agency such as ours, when we’re dealing with taxpayers’ money, budget is one of the most fundamental, integral parts of the organization. It keeps the lights on, keeps people employed, it gives back to the community, providing resources and infrastructure. To me, that’s why it’s important to me to have regular meetings — more than we’re having now,” explaining that he would like the opportunity to provide in-depth details of the city’s finances for the council and the public.”
For Geronimo, “I think the main point is to have regular meetings more often than we’re having now.”
The city council went ahead to approve a Budget & Finance Committee meeting later this month, with an educational workshop in August; and changed it from an ad hoc committee to a standing committee, which will eventually set its own meeting schedule.
Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at email@example.com , and messages may be left at (951) 849-4586 x114.