According to a state audit, Compton officials overpaid themselves, charged questionable trips on city-issued credit cards and failed to safeguard taxpayer money, which resulted in a staffer stealing millions of dollars over several years. Due to the city of Compton’s weak financial oversight and overspending, the city’s general fund surplus of $22.4 million a decade ago turned into a deficit of $42.7 million just three years later. In 2014, officials adopted a plan to repay the debt, but the deficit still increased by $6.4 million the following year. Compton received failing marks in 71 out of the 79 measures assessing internal accounting and administrative controls. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, State Controller Betty Yee stated,
The City Council’s brazen overspending contributed to the city’s financial hardship. Clearly, the City Council needs to right the ship. We hope this is a wake-up call to the residents and businesses of Compton to please pay attention to what your City Council is doing with your public funds.
Unfortunately, fiscal mismanagement is not a new problem in Compton. The former mayor, Omar Bradley, was convicted last year of misappropriating public funds. Salvador Galvan, a deputy city treasurer who was arrested on suspicion of stealing money from the treasurer’s office last year, was sentenced in November to six and a half years in federal prison for embezzling $3.72 million from 2010 to 2016. The audit examined city finances from July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2016 and found that Compton has a budget 300 percent higher than the average budget of cities of similar size and population. Hopefully, Compton is able to pay off its debt and avoid having weak financial oversight again in the future.