Over the past year, Westminster city leaders have fought over everything from war memorials to members’ appearances on Vietnamese language media. But the biggest problem facing Westminster has been the numbers all along. A new report from city staff, summarized here by Voice of OC, says the city is on track to go bankrupt by 2024.
Westminster has faced a structural deficit for years. It got a reprieve in 2017 thanks to a voter-approved sales tax measure. That measure is about to expire in December. According to the report, the deficit will grow by more than $16 million annually after next year and will run completely out of reserves by fiscal year 2024-25.
Westminster leaders have repeatedly been warned that the city headed for a fiscal cliff. The critical issue of city finances has taken a back seat to the Council’s petty infighting, Voice of OC reports.
If the city goes bankrupt, it will become even more dysfunctional. Entire police divisions and afterschool programs could be cut. Access to parks and street maintenance would become an issue, the staff report warns. Senior and youth services — which play an important role in the large Vietnamese immigrant community — could also go by the wayside. Mass layoffs would hit government infrastructure, and a decrease in oversight would likely result in more liability for the city.
Will the Council act before it’s too late?