MONTEBELLO (CBS) — Montebello’s interim city administrator Peter Cosentini resigned today, frustrated with the City Council’s lack of action in tackling budget woes.
According to council secretary, the council member gave his 30-day notice along with a letter of resignation that said he was, “no longer comfortable with our progress toward a balanced budget”. He suggested the City hire a manager “more in tune with your approach to municipal finance.”
In March, Cosentini told Council that accounting tricks had been used to misrepresent the city’s financial pictures for years, and that officials illegally took money from restricted accounts to cover expenses, according to published reports. He called for immediate and decisive action to turn things around. Two weeks ago, Cosentini called for a special emergency meeting to warn Council that the city might not be able to pay its bills by the end of April but no meeting was held.
The city has been facing financial obstacles, since officials discovered off-the-books bank accounts containing hundreds of thousands of dollars. Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley is investigating what the monies in them were used for. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has accused the city of misspending federal funds, and officials have asked to be repaid $1.3 million, plus interest.
According to reports, Councilman Frank Gomez, responding to Cosentini’s resignation, said his council colleagues were “in denial” or “lacked the conviction to do anything to solve the problems”. But Mayor Art Barajas said he and the rest of the council took the city’s budget issues very seriously and were trying to decide what to do next.
The city has already begun recruiting a new city administrator. It is unclear if anyone already employed by the city was ready to take over the job.
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