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Irvine Benefits from Progressive Leadership

In a recent OC Watchdog column, the City of Irvine is not quite in the financial dire straights that Christina Shea and Steven Choi (or Stephen Smith of the dead-in-the-water Irvine Tattler) would have you believe.

Some excerpts:

Irvine, unlike the U.S. government, is sitting on a pretty pot of money that promises to allow it to sail rather smoothly through this gathering economic storm.

Lots of money. Like, cash and investments of nearly $1 billion.

more after the jump:

According to the city’s most recent comprehensive audit (a new one is due out soon):

  • Irvine’s governmental funds had a total combined ending balance of $710.5 million.
  • About 57 percent of that – $407.3 million – is in an unreserved fund, which means much of it can be spent at the city’s discretion*.
  • The remainder – $303.2 million – is already spoken for (for infrastructure improvements, debt service, etc.).

Additionally, the column reported:

And the city’s general fund – think of it as the checking account used to pay for basic, day-to-day operations – had a reserve of $117.8 million. That’s 77 percent of what it spends in a year. (The state likes cities to have at least 5.5 percent, so Irvine apparently wins the gold star there.)

(New Irvine Mayor Suhkee) Kang was a big advocate for building a higher rainy-day reserve into the city’s budget (nearly tripling it from 5.5 percent to 16 percent over the last three years – a result, he says, of his career in business at Circuit City).