Culver City Observer -

Benchmarking Study Reveals Startling Results for Culver City


February 25, 2016

In a landmark study that has never been done before, the city’s Finance Advisory Committee has issued a Benchmarking Study that compares Culver City to seven like cities in California in a wide variety of areas ranging from programs to finances.

“The results were startling” said Göran Eriksson, who chairs the Committee and pushed for the study.

For example, the study shows that according to FBI crime statistics Culver City has the highest crime rate among the cities studied in both violent crimes and property crimes (see pg 32 of the Study).

“We need to do a better job of providing the tools and resources necessary for our police department to more effectively do its job,” Eriksson said. “We need to look at better technology, better training and better communication with the community. While we enjoy an excellent reputation, the FBI statistics say cities like Santa Monica and Beverly Hills have lower crime rates than we do. That simply should not happen.”

Eriksson said he would support an enhanced emergency dispatch system that would help reduce response times in emergency situations and would push for the use of new technology that provides the city’s first responders with more detailed information even before they arrive at the scene of an emergency.

Eriksson is also a proponent of a more robust Neighborhood Watch program that helps residents more effectively communicate with police to provide information about crimes happening in and around their neighborhoods.

Eriksson said it is vital that the public has easy access to the city’s finances and in addition to the work done to put the city’s financial information on the web, the benchmark study offers additional information for the public to compare and contrast how the city is doing.

“Transparency is important, especially when we’re talking about our tax dollars,” he said. “I am glad that the City Council listened to the Finance Advisory Committee and made it easier for all of us to see how they are spending our tax dollars.”

Still, more should be done, Eriksson said.

On the positive side of the ledger, Culver City requires the highest percentage General Fund reserve of any of the cities studied, requiring the city to keep a reserve fund equal to or greater than 30% of its General Fund for use in emergency situations (see pg 36 of the Study). In comparison, Beverly Hills’ policy requires that city to save only 25% in reserves and Brea requires only a 10% reserve.

“These reserve funds are critical as we saw in the 2008 recession,” said Eriksson. “The city currently has well above the 30% reserve requirement, but it is important that we maintain and even grow these reserves so that we can weather the downturns in the economy and the surprise expenses that we know are inevitable. Like we do in our own lives, we need to put money away for a rainy day.”

And that rainy day may be coming sooner than expected and it may be packing an El Niño-like punch.

From rapidly increasing pension and medical costs for city employees to costs associated with the federally mandated remediation of storm water/urban runoff that will cost Culver City upwards of $150 million dollars, the city needs to be prepared for some major expenditures in the next few years.

“Sure, a 30% reserve looks good, but it represents just around $30 million dollars – a fraction of the expenses we are facing even if the economy continues to improve,” Eriksson said.

Overall, Eriksson said he hopes the Benchmarking Study, which will be reviewed by the City Council at its February 22 meeting, will be a starting point for the city to evaluate how it spends its precious resources.

“Now is the time for us to be serious about our financial future,” Eriksson said. “We can continue to kick the can down the road or we can dig deeper and make the tough financial decisions that will put us in an even better position 10 years from now. Smart financial management is one of the cornerstones of my campaign, and I hope that everyone can agree that putting Culver City on firm financial footing should be one of our highest priorities. That is what allows us to do everything else we want to do.”

Former City Treasurer Crystal Alexander, who serves as the Finance Advisory Committee’s vice chair, touts the leadership Eriksson provided the committee.

“Göran encouraged all of us to use our financial skills to get this study, a landmark deliverable, into the hands of the City Council,” she said. “The study brings the numbers to life, providing the vital link between the finances and city programs our community relies on.”

Note: A complete copy of the Benchmarking Study can be found on the city’s website at:


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