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References and Source Material Related to El Cerrito's High-Risk Financial Status 

Links to Primary Documents

Cathy's most informative and excellent web page and blog at  

The State Auditor's Report for 2019-2020 Inclusive ranking El Cerrito as the sixth most financially at risk city in the entire state.(July 2021)

State Auditor's Report  risk index listing El Cerrito the seventh worse city out of 472 California cities (October 2019)

Preliminary findings by State Auditor regarding El Cerrito's need for a full performance audit (Jan 13, 2020)

San Francisco Chronicle Article on the financial crisis and how it happened (Oct 27, 2019)

San Francisco Chronicle Article pointing out high financial risk of three Bay Area cities  (Oct. 24, 2019) Note that Oakland and Richmond responded to the Chronicle's request for comments; but El Cerrito ignored all requests.

San Jose Mercury News Nov. 26, 2020 article on West Co Co County being the Bermuda Triangle of government finance.

East Bay Times Article April 12, 2020 "El Cerrito is on the Edge of Bankruptcy"

East Bay Times Article April 22 (report on the April 21, 2020 City Council Meeting that was touted to make $2 to $4 million dollars in budget cuts

East Bay Times Article by Jon Kawamoto on the special City Council Meeting April 25 on financial cuts

El Cerrito Chamber of Commerce, the "BYLINE", May 2020 interview with Daniel Borenstein regarding El Cerrito's financial Integrity

El Cerrito 's Chamber of Commerce Complete Newsletter, "The Byline" for  May, 2020

Mayor Lyman addresses the financial crisis at the Dec 17, 2019 city council meeting (starting at 29 minutes) opposing a full audit by the state auditor

Transcript of Mayor Lyman's Dec 17 comments to city council (as above). 

Disclosure by the independent auditor at the Nov. 20, 2018 City Council Meeting revealing a false 2017 budget report. "In this case, funds have been outstanding, without reimbursement for almost three years.  As a result, the “so-called” balance budget reported by the City staff, and passed by the Council, is by no means balanced. When funds were transferred out of the general fund it was done without action by the Council and without a plan for repayment. The auditor also reported most of those agencies did not have any identifiable ways to pay back the money." In short, these were not loans, but a debit. Article thanks to the El Cerrito Progressives

The Independent Auditor's presentation to the city council by Badawi and Associates on Nov 20, 2018. Begins at 1 hour:28 minutes regarding unfunded liabilities and reserve fund deficits, expenses versus debits, and legacy issues. Notice that the independent auditor stated that the general fund liabilities exceed the assets by $2 million. FAB recommended a separate emergency/disaster reserve fund to cover for disasters such as fires and earthquakes.  

Video recording of the City Council Meeting January 21, 2020. The City Manager's budget and audit report is at c. 2:16:20-2:28:30. Her report on the strategic plan process, which will be relevant to budgeting going forward, is at 2:28:30-2:31:10. The council's comments begin here and last to 2:51.

City Manager's October 31, 2019 Report on the Financial Crisis

El Cerrito Salaries 2018 from Transparent California 

El Cerrito Personnel cost increases from 2014-2018 (4 years) is $8 million

Annual Budgets 2015-2019  broken down in categories (actual and proposed)

El Cerrito Pension Plan 2018 

Labor Relations City of El Cerrito Website  Contains the MOU with the SEIU 1021, Police Association, Fire Fighters Local 1230, the city manager's contract, etc. 

City Manager's Contract for Karen Pinkos Jan 2018-2020

Property Transfer Rates for California Cities reveals that El Cerrito is in the upper 99% rate severely decreasing property values. Only 5 cities are higher.


The California State Auditor's Reports on El Cerrito 2021


Short Fact Sheet (Summary) March 2021

High Risk Issues   High risk issues such as

  • Expenditures exceeded revenue in nearly every year from fiscal years 2009–10 through 2019–20.
  • Exhausted its general fund reserves in fiscal year 2016–17.
  • Relies extensively on short-term loans to provide services to its community and avoid insolvency.
  • Faces rapidly increasing pension costs., etc.

The Auditor's Report Index Page 

The Long Awaited March 2021 Full State Auditor's Report on El Cerrito

El Cerrito's City Manager's Reaction to the State Auditor's Report (Dated March 16, 2021)

The State Auditor's Rebuttal to the City Manager's Response

An excellent analysis by El Cerrito Committee for Responsible Government (thanks Cathy and Ira) See it at:

Analysis of the State Auditor's Report in  The East Bay Times March 19 article




Financial Advisory Board (FAB) minutes November 2019 discussion on the State Auditor's report 

Financial Advisory Board (FAB) minutes December 2019  Greg Lyman briefed the FAB on recent Council action; passage of Measure H; his interview with the State Auditor; upcoming budget process; need for right sizing costs to match revenues; capital improvement plan; proposed Citywide Townhall (Finance 101) and the part FAB members could play in explaining financial terms such as: CAFR, bond, OPEB, Unfunded Liability, Fund Balance, etc. to local residents and answer questions on fiscal matters of general interest to the public, in simple terms.

Financial Advisory Board (FAB) Minutes 5/14/2019 on measure V 

Financial Advisory Board (FAB) handout on January 14, 2020 as a google docs PDF for public view. (TY to Barbara for uploading) 

General link to the Financial Advisory Board Agendas, Minutes, and packets

Council Meetings, Reports, and Town Hall Meeting

City Manager's Report 01/23/2020 (pp 1- 8 regarding the financial crisis while announcing the Town Hall Meeting). 

Town Hall Feb.1, Slideshow (PowerPoint Presentation)  

Feb 1 Town Hall Budget Meeting Video with improved audio (Thanks Mike)

El Cerrito's Annual Budget Process

El Cerrito's Budget Book 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 Fiscal Years

El Cerrito's Strategic Plan 

Slide Show Graphics at the Feb 4, City Council Meeting by the Finance Director 

El Cerrito City Council Mid Year (2019-2020) Budget Update by Mark Rasiah, budget director, Feb. 18, 2020

City Council Meeting Feb 18, 2020 Transmittal of the CAFR for the year ending June 30, 2019, by Mark Rasiah 

City Council Telecommunications Meeting April 7, 2020 where an $8 million shortfall is projected for 2020 after $2 million cuts are made.

Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) ending June 2018  


Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) ending June 2019 -- Final


EL Cerrito Proposed Budget 2020-2021


El Cerrito Municipal Bond Issue (EMMA)


Supplementary Relevant Reference Material and Data


Ira's State Auditor's Report KEY RATIOS comparing El Cerrito's pension liabilities  with three other comparable neighboring cities

State Auditor's Report 2017-2020 PENSION Liability comparisons

Ira's Reserves, Liquidity, and Pensions  Ranks Dashboard comparing Pinole, San Pablo, Albany, and El Cerrito

Ira's primary data sources  This site, created by Ira, is prolific with hard data relating to El Cerrito's financial situation with numerous Charts and Graphs

Ira's Tableau tables  Ira's excellent graphic representations (charts, pictures, and images)

Ira's pie charts that demonstrate graphically how the city expenditures increased more than revenue year after year. (Published June 2021)

El Cerrito Employees Pension Trust Fund 2014

El Cerrito's bond rating dropped from A- to BBB in November 2019


Flow Chart State Auditor's Full Audits


Proposed Scope of State Auditor's Audit for El Cerrito (PDF)  The HTML Document is HERE


The State Auditor's Audit Request of El Cerrito in Joint Session with the Legislative Committee (Jan 13, 2020)


El Cerrito loses law suit in a failed claim to seize redevelopment agency money


For many years El Cerrito banked on receiving money from the now defunct redevelopment agency but their appeal has been dismissed. This is the Court Brief


The recession demonstrates why reserve funds are critical and why El Cerrito is in deep trouble   This analysis is from the California Policy Center


Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFR)


El Cerrito's Financial Transparency Web Site


Transparent California El Cerrito Salaries 2018 

Transparent California El Cerrito Salaries 2019

Government Employee Compensations in El Cerrito 2018 by the California State Controller's Office

El Cerrito Demographics from FactFinder US Census

El Cerrito Sales Tax Calculator compared to other cities

The City Charter Measure and Measure W (the Transfer Tax) Made El Cerrito's Parcel Tax among the Highest in the State

AB1324 State Assembly Bill Introduced by Skinner to Increase El Cerrito Sales Tax 

A History of Raising Taxes Deceptively Using City Funds that Accelerated El Cerrito to the Highest Sales Tax in the State in 2015 (Measure R)

Measure H in 2019 Provided almost $1 Million annually with no sunset date for the Recreation Department's discretionary fund. It was snuck on the ballot at the last moment preventing an argument against it.

The Seven Deadly Sins of Public Finance

Unfunded pension liabilities


An overview on unfunded pension liabilities and how recessions negatively affect El Cerrito's revenue. Another reason why reserve funds at 15% reflect responsible management.

Holding back on contributing pension funds is one devious method to hide yearly deficits 

Pension Tracker El Cerrito FY 2017