For City Treasurer Tim Lilligren, last week was his seventh time taking the oath of office in Manhattan Beach Council Chambers.
“With each time, it’s a more humbling experience that the people of Manhattan Beach are still willing to vote for me,” Lilligren said last Tuesday evening.
This is Lilligren’s fourth term serving as city treasurer. It’s a job he thoroughly enjoys.
“I like city government as a whole. I look at the big picture of city government and like all phases of it,” Lillilgren said.
Lilligren, who owns a CPA firm in the city, has a long history in Manhattan Beach. In the 1980s he was appointed to the board of building appeals and later the board of zoning adjustment. Lilligren then ran for city council in 1986 but was unsuccessful.
Instead of taking another stab at city council in 1988, Lilligren successfully ran for city clerk, a position which was changed to an appointed one after voters passed the measure in the March 1996 election.
In 1992, Lilligren was elected to city council and went on to serve for two terms until 2001. With one young child and another on the way, Lilligren decided to take a brief hiatus from city government.
Then, in 2005, Lilligren ran for city treasurer.
“My wife wouldn’t let me run for council again,” Lilligren laughed. “Being on council does take a lot of time and I had two young kids … I thought running for city treasurer would allow me to get involved with city government again without getting too involved with the politics of it all.”
During his 12 years as city treasurer, Lilligren said he’s learned a great deal about investing city money. Lilligren said he bases investments on three factors: safety, liquidity and yield.
“It’s my job to make sure that the cash is invested properly and that we’re getting a reasonable rate of return and that it’s safe,” Lilligren said.
When asked if he's had any challenges since becoming treasurer, Lilligren pointed to the 2008 financial crisis.
In September 2008, Lilligren, along with Bruce Moe, the city’s financial director, decided to sell three stocks. However, the next day at 9 a.m. they could only get 70 cents on the dollar if they sold.
“Bruce said there’s just something happening out there. So we decided not to sell,” Lilligren said. “Then he called about noon and said, ‘Tim, if we were to sell I could only get 30 cents on the dollar for these things that we wanted to sell.’”
They met with the finance subcommittee and decided not to sell the stocks. Over the next three months, they were able to sell the “problem” stocks.
“We ended up making a very small amount. We lost on one or two and we gained on one, but the net was like a $1,000 net profit or something ... I lost a lot of sleep and so did Bruce,” Lilligren said.
In addition to his long affair with city government, Lilligren was also raised in Manhattan Beach. He attended Grand View Elementary, Center Street School and Aviation High School.
“Manhattan Beach is a pretty tight community and I like that. It’s a community set, it’s a true community. I know my neighbors. I like the small community feeling of it,” Lilligren said.