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San Clemente Journal

20 Minutes with Pall Gudgeirsson, City Treasure

Feb 05, 2004 04:59PM ● By Don Kindred
by Don Kindred

Pall in his native Iceland.
"I'm from Iceland"
 Even in the culturally diversified southland that’s one you don’t hear everyday. Perhaps because Iceland’s entire population is only, 285,000. If they added 50,000 more Icelanders they would have roughly the same population as the city of Santa Ana.
In fact, San Clemente City Treasurer Pall Gudgeirsson himself has only had one chance encounter with someone else from his homeland. But Pall is also quite proud of his uncommon heritage. He still speaks the native language and makes annual treks to his hometown of Reykjavik, on the southern coast of the northern island. When there, he visits his 80-year-old father who still runs his own clothing store. Pall makes note that Iceland boasts one of the world’s highest life expectancy rates. (It also claims one of the world’s highest literacy rates, as well as the world’s first parliamentary government, formed in 979, A.D. )
     “It was a very closed society for many years,” Pall says, “they really fought against any outside influence. That has changed quite a bit now, I think” 
     Iceland lies about 500 miles off the coast of England. While he’ll admit that the weather was often severe, with strong winds and temperatures below freezing, the summers are known to be quite mild. Pall and his wife of 34 years, Vicki, are currently looking into buying a second home in his native country.
     Pall moved with his mother to Washington state in 1964, where he entered junior high school speaking English, but with a distinctly Islandic accent. He graduated from high school in Silverdale in 1969 and married his high school sweetheart the same year. The couple now have two children, Christine, 30 a teacher in Alabama and a son, Kevin, 22, a senior at California State University at San Marcos.
     Pall graduated from the University of Washington with a BA in Accounting, then went on to the University of Puget Sound, where he earned an MBA in Finance.
     Putting his career on hold, he joined the United Sates Air Force, serving his adopted country as a policeman in Okinawa. 
     Out of the service, Pall began his career in the Finance Department of Kitsap County, Washington, then the City of Redmond (think Microsoft), Washington where he served as Finance Director.
     He also gained experience with the accounting firm of Ernst and Young before finding his way to the City of San Clemente. And to the potion he calls the “perfect job”...

City Treasurer
Pall Gudgeirsson is currently the City of San Clemente’s City Treasurer, a position he’s been elected to twice by public vote. He also serves as the Assistant City Manager.
Pall’s tenure at the helm of city finances has resulted in two documents for which he and the City have received national recognition. One is the development of a national Investment Policy Model. And the other is the City’s Long Term Financial Plan, which he recently presented at PBS studios in Chicago for national broadcast.These two edicts are said to be primarily responsible for the City’s enviable current position, despite a roller coaster of negative financial impacts tossed at us from the State.
I took the opportunity to talk to Pall about the state’s budget crisis and the potential impact on our own. Something he admittedly can talk about forever.

According to Pall, the State of California budget’s dramatic dive from a $14 billion surplus to an anticipated $14 billion dollar deficit had several contributing factors. Among them are:
1. A decline in the dot com industry
2. Slowing of the Economy
3. State Overspending
4. State Overhiring
5. The Energy crisis
The total impact in dollars will likely be over $1,000,000. But the danger is that if the Governor’s bond issue of $15 billion doesn’t pass, the state will look to local government for even more.

The 03-04 Operating Budget for Expenditures (total City, including General Fund, Special Revenue Funds, and Enterprise Funds) totals $66.5 million, as compared to last year’s Operating Budget of $68.0. 
General Fund operating revenue for 03-04 = $35.7 million 
General Fund operating expenditures for 03-04 = $35.6 million 
As presented above, the City adopted a balanced budget 
(i.e. revenues = expenditures, within $0.1 million). 
The City approved a Capital Improvement Plan of $12.1 million for 03-04. 
The Capital improvements will be made as follows; 
Streets $3.4 million 
Parks $2.5 million 
Water assets $1.7 million 
Sewer assets $1.2 million 
Storm Drain assets $0.3 million 
Other City facilities $3.0 million 
The City has $25.9 million in total reserves. This includes reserves for the replacement of Water, Sewer and Storm Drain Capital assets, as well as emergency reserves for operations of the General Fund and all of the City’s Enterprise Funds. The City is fully funded, as defined by City Fiscal Policy, for emergency reserves. 
The General Fund balance is projected to equal $9.0 million at the end of the current fiscal year. 
Born: Reykjavik, Iceland
Education: B.A. - Accounting - University of Washington
MBA-Finance - University of Puget Sound
US Air Force, 
Police Officer, Okinawa
Current: Assistant City 
Manager/City Treasurer (elected)
Past Experience:
- Fiscal Officer, Kitsap County, 
- Finance Director/treasurer
Redmond Washington
- Teacher, Cal State Long Beach
Wife: Vicki (Married 34 Years) 
Children: Son Kevin, 22, in college 
Daughter Christine, 30, Teacher
Admirable Note:
He hosted the City’s 
75th Birthday Celebration Committee 
Favorite Quote:
“Life is what happens when you’re 
busy making other plans.”
- John Lennon
“Who are those guys?”
- Butch Cassidy