Tale of two Rose Parade floats. Huntington Beach and Mission Viejo

Today’s OC Register contains a story regarding Huntington Beach’s upcoming centennial celebration that, if approved by their city council, will include a 55 foot float in the Jan 1, 2009 Rose Parade. According to the story they are budgeting $200,000 of which $110,000 has already been raised.
To celebrate 100 years of cityhood, and being a destination/beach city, one can easily justify that project expenditure to promote their city. I was also glad to see that they are already collecting private sector donations.

Let’s look a little further south on Interstate 5 to the bedroom community of Mission Viejo where I reside. Mind you we are not a destination, have no Angel Stadium, Convention Center or Disneyland theme park to promote. I have previously blogged about our Rose Parade plans and feel it appropriate to make a comparison.

At 98,000 Mission Viejo’s population is half of Huntington Beach’s 194,000. Mission Viejo is only celebrating our 20th year of cityhood. What significance does that “milestone” have in the scheme of things truly baffles me.  Another difference is that we have budged $300,000 for our 20th anniversary float with no mention of any effort to offset some of the cost via donations which brings me to another Mission Viejo tale that was also blogged previously.

The city council provided around $440,000 of taxpayer seed money to the nonprofit Mission Viejo Foundation whose initial fundraising effort, according to COX Cable VP Jim Leach, Chairman of the Foundation Board, their goal was to raise $one to $1.5 million in one year’s time to offset some of the cost of the expansion of the Murray Center. As you may recall last month I reported that we only received a check from the Foundation in the amount of $177,500. As such we are still around $250,000 in the hole.  Knowing the city made plans to have a float in the parade one would have expected a representative of the Foundation to come forward and offer their support to mitigate the float cost. The silence is deafening.

In fact, at the June 30th Mission Viejo City Council Mid-Cycle Budget Review meeting Council Member Gail Reavis asked for a status report on their activities yet the council chamber was as quiet as a church mouse. The City Manger did not respond nor did any other member of the council support her information request with any follow up.
Yes, this is a tale of two cities. Completion of a Fiscal Management course should be a mandatory prerequisite before being sworn in as a member of our council.

About Larry Gilbert