San Bernardino, Calif., has hired Orange County-based firm Urban Futures in lieu of hiring a finance director to bolster its efforts to right the city and provide the financial documents creditors complain they have been lax in providing during bankruptcy proceedings.
The City Council approved recommendations made by recently-hired City Manager Allen Parker in a memo to hire Urban Futures at an annual cost of $450,000 at its April 1 meeting.
"Getting the finance department running is my number-one priority," Parker said in the memo. "Simply stated, we can't take two weeks or months to recruit, interview, do background checks etc. for the management positions."
Urban Futures will provide services so that the city doesn't have to hire a finance director to replace Jason Simpson, who resigned in February, or fill other vacant budget management and fiscal officer positions. The cost of filling those positions with benefits would be $450,430, equivalent to the Urban Futures contract, according to the memo.
"We need to get the department up and running, not only for day-to-day needs, but for the budget, bankruptcy and audits," Parker said in the memo.
Urban Futures President Michael Busch could not be reached for comment, but the company provides similar services for Jurupa, Calif.
San Bernardino also approved a $300,000 contract for bankruptcy assistance from Urban Futures, which had already been filling that role.
City Attorney James Penman has said in previous interviews that the city had been contracting with Urban Futures to fill the gaps in the finance department.
Penman said the city was having difficulties finding a replacement for Simpson, because highly-skilled financial professionals weren't interested in coming to a city in bankruptcy court.
At the company's recommendation, the city will hire a contract administrator and two accountants, who would be city employees, for a total of $240,812.
Interim City Manager Andrew Travis-Miller and Simpson resigned in January.
Travis-Miller left to work as executive director for San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments on Feb. 19. Simpson's future plans were not disclosed.
Parker was hired to replace Travis-Miller in February.