At the January 11th Fort Bragg City Council meeting Police Chief Fabian Lizarraga assured the Council, City staff, and the handful of citizens in attendance that the investigation into the death of Dennis Boardman would hopefully be resolved “in the not-too-distant future.” He added that two of his officers were “making some headway” with the case.
The Chief's circumspect remarks were countered a few minutes later when a local citizen spoke during the “Public Comments” section of the meeting, stating directly that a transient killed Boardman. The citizen went on to tie such lawless actions by transients to the seemingly never ending controversy surrounding the former Old Coast Hotel (corner of Franklin and Oak Streets) as the new location for centralized mental health services and transitional housing for the formerly homeless.
A swipe at the latter might well be appropriate because it appears that no such transitional housing has occurred yet. However, transients have been a problem intermittently on the Mendocino Coast, even before segments of the Manson family set up temporary shop in Anderson Valley and the Littleriver Airport Road decades ago. In short, commentary on the woeful state of adult mental health service is cogent. Trying to broad brush all of that onto the city manager and mayor of Fort Bragg for presenting and approving a centralized site for coastal mental health services is too big a stretch. The logic is similar to blaming law enforcement officers, who have become de facto mental health crisis workers, for not anticipating the killing of Mr. Boardman.
I wish that speakers from the general public at civic meetings would wholeheartedly grasp hold of the concept that two or three individual truths do not always equal a greater truth (of the speakers choosing). I also wish that citizens who speak out in the first fifteen minutes of civic meetings would stick around for the remainder of the show.
At the January 11th Fort Bragg City Council meeting the rest of the show included the California Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for the city. The person who spoke about Dennis Boardman's death being the responsibility of a transient also claimed that a seeming influx of transients had resulted in a decline in Fort Bragg's businesses. While it is true that there are several vacant store fronts on Franklin Street, the CAFR indicates an increase of over $190,000 in the ironically titled Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) collection for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015. The TOT numbers represent an 11% rise from the previous fiscal year. Sales taxes also increased, though by a more modest 2%.
With only two or three members of the public left in attendance city staffers and the city council perused the 203 page CAFR document. Those who haven't bothered to study the document at any length might like to latch onto the pie chart displaying Operating and Capital grants as 43% of the City of Fort Bragg's revenues.
While the City's net position improved by $31,000 over the previous fiscal year, those looking down the road might note that 91% of Fort Bragg's net assets consist essentially of infrastructure (think water pipes, machinery, buildings). The CAFR makes it clear that these assets cannot be liquidated to pay liabilities. Additionally, the City of Fort Bragg's property tax collections, which dropped in half between 2011 and 2013, have not rebounded in the last two years. Another way to look at it this: the price of a home in Fort Bragg increased by a little over seven percent in the last fiscal year, but the collection of property tax revenues decreased by about three and a half percent.
The City of Fort Bragg has a $1.3 million general reserve fund and a litigation reserve fund of $300,000. The Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) awarded certificates of achievement for excellence in financial reporting to Fort Bragg for four years in a row, beginning in 2011. The City will be submitting the current report for similar consideration. However nice that all may appear there is a dragon looming at the end of a long dark cave traveling into the future. The fire breathing, asset devouring beast is something commonly known as pension pay outs. The new Government Accounting Standard Board laws regarding pensions creates a net decrease for the City of Fort Bragg totaling $7,000,000.