A day after San Bernardino emerged from its 53-month bankruptcy, city officials marked the “watershed moment” with a detailed statement on what they’ve done since filing for bankruptcy and their plans for the future.
In numerical terms, the city’s statement says the city has implemented about 70 percent of its recovery plan.
That’s turned once-dire projections for the future upside down.
For instance, the city’s financial analysts projected in 2013 that at the end of 10 years — fiscal year 2022-23 — it would have a deficit of $360 million if dramatic changes weren’t made. Now, with most of those changes finished or underway, it projects an unallocated cash balance in 2022-23 of $9.5 million.
“Now, the city is on the cusp of emerging from bankruptcy as a changed city with a brighter future,” the statement says.
The five-page statement focuses mostly on what’s changed since the emergency bankruptcy filing in August 2012, painting a picture of a city that was on the brink of disaster but put itself on a firm foundation.
“Given the emergency nature of its filing, it took the city several months to assess its financial condition — until April 2013, at which time the city adopted a final budget for fiscal years 2012-13 and 2013-14,” the statement reminds the public. “The city’s initial financial assessment, however, only reflected further concern over its financial future. In September 2013, Mayor (Pat) Morris announced that absent fundamental modernization and change, the city faced a 10-year deficit of a staggering $360 million. The future of San Bernardino looked bleak.”
Since then, the city has:
�• Reached agreements with labor unions to save more than $100 million. By ending almost all its subsidies of health insurance coverage for employees and retirees, the city calculates savings of about $44 million for retirees and $51 million for current employees.
Other changes to pensions and other benefits will save about $56 million.
�• Contracted out for many services that were once done by city employees.
Annexing itself into the San Bernardino County Fire Protection District, which put the county in charge of fire and emergency medical response, is projected to aid the city’s bottom line by $65.6 million over the next 20 fiscal years just in pension savings, and an improved financial position in excess of about $5 million to $6 million annually.
The annexation also included a parcel tax that property owners now pay to the county.
In addition, the city contracted for trash and recycling collection, resulting in a one-time franchise payment of $5 million and increased estimated annual revenues of approximately $5 million to $7.6 million per year.
On top of that, the city has made contracts for everything from operating its soccer complex to sweeping rights of way and streets.