City treasurer to retire

Malibu City Treasurer/Auditor Pete Lippman announced he is retiring Nov. 1, amid allegations of conflict with City Manager Katie Lichtig and concern about how it seems the city does not intend to find a replacement. Lippman says he feels it is important to have an independent auditor on staff to prevent corruption.

Lippman said he leaves the city with mixed feelings because he feels the workload of his job has diminished in the past few years, and said he is concerned the City Council has made no effort to replace him. Mayor Sharon Barovsky said Lippman has worked more this year than in the past.

Lippman’s position is unlike most others on the city staff because he only reports to the City Council, unlike department heads who report to the city manager. Lippman is assigned projects by the City Council to independently review financial matters. He said in the past, city managers had also requested that the council instruct him to go over items that included financial matters.

“That has not happened in the last couple years,” Lippman said. “The city manager [Katie Lichtig] has a different opinion of how she wants the city to operate.”

Lichtig said she has in the past recommended to the council that Lippman review financial issues. But she said for the most part it is inappropriate for her to be designating assignments to Lippman. “The only thing I can construe from Pete’s complaints is that he felt he didn’t have enough to do,” Lichtig said. “And that’s between him and the council.”

Barovsky said if the city manager instructs the council to use Lippman, it diminishes the independence that makes his position unique.

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“He’s supposed to be working for the council,” Barovsky said. “I like the fact that the city manager understands that Pete reports to the council, not to her.”

But Lippman said the council has given him less projects to work on in the past few years, something Barovsky said is not true.

As for why the council has not begun a search yet for a replacement, Barovsky said that has a great deal to do with the irregularity of his job status. Because Lippman is a retired state employee, he is barred from working for the city more than 960 hours per year.

“To find a part-time person to do that would be very difficult,” Barovsky said. “And secondly, his assignments are on a case-by-case basis. That’s going to continue. But when there isn’t an assignment, I’d just as much as assume not to pay someone.”

Barovsky said she would like to bring Lippman back in April to review the budget, and hire outside agencies when a need for auditing arises. Lippman said he does not think this is a good policy, because it would be better to have somebody on staff that would be intimately familiar with what is going on with the city.

Lippman has been with the city since 1996. Prior to that, he had worked as a contract auditor for the U.S. Department of Defense. This came after 22 years of working for various school districts in California, including the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.

Lippman was born and raised in San Diego. He graduated from the University of San Diego in 1959 with a degree in business administration. Following graduation, he worked for Copley Press in San Diego. He was drafted into the Army in 1966. During his two years of service, he did not see any combat and spent most of his time in San Francisco. After his stint with the Army, he began his career in finance working for school districts.

A musician, Lippman plays the drums and sings. He is a member of a group called the Sophisticats, which performs jazz and big band music. Lippman is also the treasurer for the newly formed Malibu Arts Foundation and he teaches two business classes at Santa Monica College.

Lippman and his wife, Libby, have been married for 13 years. He has three older children, Daniel, David and Anne.

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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