Finance Oversight Committee
Bringing Transparency to City Hall
Achieving Economic Stability & Protecting Taxpayers
In the Summer of 2015, the City of Hawthorne faced a financial crisis due to fraudulent and unethical behavior of the previous City Manager. “Fake revenue” was used to artificially balance the city’s 2014-2015 budget. As a result, the city faced a $5.2 million deficit once the truth came to light. To balance the 2015-2016 budget, drastic measures were taken, including employee furloughs.
“What a difference 4 years can make,” said Councilmember Haidar Awad, Candidate for Mayor who was elected in late 2015 and took office in December of that year. Councilmember Awad ran and won on his business financial experience.
“I vowed to bring transparency to city hall and never let one person have so much control over the city’s finances,” said Councilmember Awad. “The purpose of the oversight committee I chair is to question everything in detail and vet the budget before it even gets to the full council. We now have both a shield and a sword.”
Haidar fulfilled a promise to voters when the City Council approved a financial “watchdog” committee in 2017, of which he was named Chairperson. The Finance Oversight Committee was created to monitor the city’s finances to achieve economic stability and protect taxpayers’ dollars. In addition to monthly meetings with city department managers, the committee was tasked with reviewing financial records and developing recommendations for the City Council.
The city’s financial future is bright. Several accounts that wisely use city funds to generate additional funds have grown since 2015: The Local Agency Investment Fund (LAIF), a voluntary program for municipalities went from $7.9 million to nearly $13 million; the Multi Bank Securities fund, suggested by City Treasurer L. David Paterson, grew from $973 thousand to $7 million; and the city’s bank account in 2015 held only $3.1 but today there is over $12 million in the bank. In addition, Hawthorne has a Money Market account at Bank of the West Commercial with $21 million and a Sweep Account with $4.1 million. All contributing to a solvent, well-financed city.