UPLAND'S MONEY woes seem to be deepening, but there's one bright spot for taxpayers: Robb Quincey, the former city manager who sued for $7.8 million after his firing, isn't getting a penny.

I learned this after Monday night's City Council meeting. The news might fulfill the message in my fortune cookie from two hours earlier: "A pleasant surprise is in store for you soon."

(Either that, or another pleasant surprise is coming. Somebody pinch me.)

The no-soup-for-you ruling came down from an arbitrator whose decision is binding and unable to be appealed.

The major piece of the ruling we've already reported. The arbitrator last summer upheld Quincey's May 2011 sacking, ruling that Quincey, who was paid $460,000 per year, broke his employment contract by covering up his use of public money to settle a private matter.

That decision meant that City Hall didn't have to pay him some $570,000 in severance or the $7.8 million in damages Quincey sought.

Undetermined then was the outcome of Quincey's request for one month of salary - he had been fired on the spot, without 30 days' notice - and for a cashout of remaining leave time. The total was approximately $230,000.

(Before his firing Quincey cashed out 1,600 hours, or nine months' worth, of vacation, sick leave, administrative leave and comp time, for $200,000. That was about half of what Quincey had on the books, City Manager Stephen Dunn confirmed Tuesday. Oh, to have 18 months of leave time.)

Quincey won't get the $230,000 either. The arbitrator's final decision calls for both sides to walk away with no money changing hands, each side paying its own legal costs and with no further legal action.

The decision was signed Aug. 23 by Quincey, Sept. 5 by the council and Sept. 11 by the arbitrator. So, now that it's official, that appears to be the last word in the Quincey matter.

The result is that Upland's Half Million Dollar Man, already fired and humiliated, slinks away without any parting gifts.

Arbitrator for mayor! Arbitrator for mayor!

So the Quincey era is over. And next Monday, former mayor John Pomierski, the other fellow who dragged Upland's reputation through the mud, is headed to prison for bribery.

And people say the Daily Bulletin never prints any good news!

Alas, the state of the city's finances isn't so rosy.

"We're closing out the books on the fiscal year, and the news is terrible," Dunn said toward the end of Monday's uneventful council meeting.

Revenues were lower than projected and costs were higher, and the city's annual audit, generally a routine matter, is assuming great importance. Only when the audit is complete, Dunn said, will officials go into detail about the city's finances.

Continuing a theme from the last meeting, Dunn did mention again that overtime is a concern. In the last pay period, overtime cost $81,000, most of it for police and fire.

After the meeting, Dunn elaborated on a comment he'd made about two inspectors in the Public Works Department who collected overtime for what sounded like duplicated work.

They work a 4/10 schedule, 10 hours a day Monday to Thursday. Construction projects, however, occur five or six days per week.

In a two-week pay period, the two claimed a combined 41.5 hours of overtime, saying they were spending Fridays and Saturdays checking progress on the widening of Foothill Boulevard and reconstruction of Pine Street.

In fact, "Public Works paid them 20 hours of overtime to inspect the same two jobs on the same day," Dunn told me.

Hang on. Each inspector put in a full 10-hour day as they scoured the same two worksites? Talk about zeal. They must have gone over the asphalt with a magnifying glass. (Or sat in their trucks drinking coffee.)

During the meeting, Dunn said of the dual inspections: "That is unacceptable, and we've taken steps to ensure that does not happen again."

As for Upland's financial situation, Dunn briefed council members on that in closed session. The topic was described on the agenda as labor negotiations. "We used that opportunity to talk about a potential change in working conditions," Dunn told me, without elaborating.

Upland had projected a balanced budget and preservation of a 10 percent cushion in its reserves, or $4.1 million - enough money to meet payroll and expenses for two months.

"I can tell you it's worse than projected," Dunn said of the bottom line. Auditors are determining how much worse. A mistake was already found that was not in the city's favor.

Because the final deficit is "a moving target," Dunn said, officials are holding off on releasing numbers until convinced they're accurate.

Within the next 30 days, Dunn said, a special council meeting will be called to go over the results with the public.

If so, that would occur a couple of weeks before the election in which voters will choose a mayor and a council member. Excellent timing.

So things are looking grim in the City of Gracious Living. At this point, I can urge only two courses of action.

1. Uplanders, check your fortune cookies carefully for good or bad news.

2. Arbitrator for mayor!

David Allen writes Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, your misfortune. Reach him at david.allen@inlandnewspapers.com or 909-483-9339, read his blog at dailybulletin.com/davidallenblog, check out facebook.com/davidallencolumnist and follow @davidallen909 on Twitter.