By 2 Urban Girls
COMPTON — Despite being named the state’s riskiest city, a divided City Council passed a controversial $45 million street repair bond following a public hearing Dec. 15. Many residents were outraged that the council agreed to the bond sale when the city receives money annually for infrastructure repair.
“Measure M, Measure R and Proposition C are county sales tax revenues the city receives annually of approximately $4.5 million and we are proposing a portion of that revenue be used to obtain a much larger size funding opportunity to address infrastructure needs,” City Manager Craig Cornwell said. “This is not a request to add to resident’s property tax or add to sales tax, but a request from funds that are coming into the city annually and want to propose a percentage to fund a larger infrastructure rehabilitation program.”
Because the city lacks audits, with an independent opinion on the city’s internal controls, the city doesn’t have a credit rating to ensure that it receives favorable rates to pay back the bond debt.
Residents cite the recent audit performed by the state controller as further evidence the council continues to overextend the city with frivolous spending.
“There is no impact to the general fund and we are leveraging outside funds to pay for the bond debt,” said Councilwoman Michelle Chambers, who campaigned for the council on repairing the city’s infrastructure through a bond program.
“The money from the proposed funding sources are not co-mingled with the general fund,” City Treasurer Doug Sanders said.
“I totally have faith in your leadership and your department,” Chambers told Sanders.
Residents continue to be concerned about the city’s capacity to pay back the debt, especially in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic and revenue shortfall.
The bond measure passed 3-1 with Councilman Isaac Galvan voting no and Councilwoman Tana McCoy not being present.
“I have been working with Independent Cities Finance Authority (ICFA) since 2017 and I know the community wants us to hold off but I am really passionate about ways to get money to fix the streets,” Councilwoman Emma Sharif said.
Sharif was the deciding vote and typically votes in line with her constituents. When reached by 2UrbanGirls about her decision she declined to comment.
“This is the most pitiful administration this city has ever seen in its history,” said Cynthia Macon, a longtime Compton resident. “Passing a bond after being cited by the state controller for overspending and right before the April 2021 election shows their contempt for the people and ineptitude in governing.”
Other residents look forward to the repairs.
“The bond is a great way for the city to leverage transportation funding it already receives to create larger, more impactful infrastructure projects,” said Jace Dawson, who lives in the 2nd District. “Pay as you go is great for municipalities that have actively maintained their roads. That’s not where we are in Compton and I am looking forward to seeing the streets improved in my district.”
2 Urban Girls is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers who covers the Compton and Inglewood area. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.