Oxnard to invite State Controller to examine the books, agree on action?

OxCiryHallCarCrash2

Incident outside City Hall after today’s Fiscal Policy task Force meeting was held. Photo: Dan Pinedo/CitizensJournal.us

By George Miller

Calling in State Controller

At today’s Oxnard Fiscal Policy Task Force special meeting, the group reached consensus to recommend to City Council to invite the State Controller’s office in to examine the books in detail. The state has already inquired as why the the 2014-15 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report is so late and submitted long lists of questions. This item was placed on the special meeting agenda at Councilman Bert Perello’s request.

Attendees agreed that this might also head off potential further lengthy delays, by agreeing on the approach beforehand., rather than submitting it and having it rejected one or more times.

Perello came prepared with his own press release to recommend the action which was decided upon. We understand that this could cost the city $100,00-200,000 or even more. It appears below:

?

Bryan MacDonald mentioned that he had already reached out to the State Controller’s office. So had Bert Perello. City Council candidate Al Velasquez also claimed to do so.

Regular readers of CitizensJournal.us should know that Oxnard has had severe accounting problems- not just a shortage of money- but not knowing for sure what the money situation even is.  An operations audit revealed serious problems with internal controls, cash controls and financial controls. Oxnard’s auditor, Eadie + Payne, confirmed that and found even more, as did numerous consultants hired to diagnose and fix the problems. Read our previous reports for more info.

Advertisement- 740 South B Street, Oxnard, (805) 486-6878

Advertisement- 740 South B Street, Oxnard, (805) 486-6878

Evaluations of prospective internal audit vendors

The Council instructed staff to find an internal auditor. candidates were to be rated by three parties. Because rater Bert Perello had not done so yet. So, this item was postponed until the April 13 regular meeting.  There was some discussion concerning choice of raters.

Other

The Task force consists of of City Council members Bryan MacDonald (Chair), & Bert Perello, as well as key financial staff, consultant David Millican and Assistant City Manager Maria Hurtado, who City Manager Nyhoff tells us is Interim CFO. City Manager Greg Nyhoff, Assistant City Manager Scott Whitney, auditors and miscellaneous consultants are often seen at these meetings, as well as reporters from The VC Star and CitizensJournal.us. Also present and not shy about making suggestions/complaints are some of the same residents who speak frequently on City matters at Council meetings, such as retired Municipal finance Director Jim Lavery, former Oxnard Finance Director Phil Molina, accountant/watchdog Larry Stein, INCO VP Jackie Tedeshi, resident Nancy Pedersen and Eileen Tracy, now of Port Hueneme.

Public Comment

Steve Nash said that it might have been good to utilize the resources of the League of Cities to offre advice or provide models that might have been helpful with the serious accounting and audit compliance problems.

Attendees wanted to discuss other matters at the meeting as well. Chair MacDonald listened to them but cautioned the group that some were outside the limited scope of today’ special meeting agenda.

Some examples: Jim Lavery protested the long time practice of leaving funded, vacant jobs open and using that money to make up for overruns elsewhere, then saying that the budget is balanced. Phil Molina concurred. George Miller said that measuring line items deviations is better practice.Dave Millican said it is too detailed to manage. However, it could be managed by category, or sums of absolute value s of deviations+/- by class.

Phil Molina objected to having non-elected officials (in this case consultant Dave Millican) doing evaluations of

Jim Lavery objected to the recurring practice of bringing in consultants to do small assignments, then once they get their feet in the door to become knowledgeable and hard to compate with, they receive far larger contract awards.

When some task force members thanked consultants and auditors for finding the problems, Phil Molina pointed out that a former auditor, KPMG, had detected many problems which it included in management letters which the CFO saw but did not make City Council aware of.

Jim Lavery pointed out that Millican and others had indeed found some things missed by auditors, such as  the assessment district mess, public safety leave time issues, etc. He also said that consultants had uncovered much the first year, but questioned whether that is still occurring.

Lavery also pointed out that the Finance Department is still “not up to speed,” that the consultants are not training people as needed, that this should be one of the principle objectives, due to all the full time position vacancies, which is a serious waste of opportunities.

 

An omen?

Possibly as a sign … only hours after the meeting, a stolen car being chased by Oxnard Police slammed into the City Hall building at 300 3rd Street where the meeting had been held, right where meeting attendees had been previously standing outside after the meeting ended. Our reporter on the scene shortly afterward was told that Police had to chase and arrest the driver after the crash. The corner of the building on Third and B Streets was damaged, as was the car. We do not yet know if anyone in the car was injured.

Today’s meeting:

Fiscal Policy Task Force – Special Meeting April 7, 2016 Agenda

Next meeting: 

Fiscal Policy Task Force April 13, 2016 – 09:00 AM View Agenda

George Miller is Publisher of CitizensJournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant residing in Oxnard.

Get Citizensjournal.us Headlines free  SUBSCRIPTION. Keep us publishing – DONATE
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
2 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Debbie
Debbie
5 years ago

Thank You Larry Stein for your diligent, as always, attention to these details! If the City of Oxnard would listen to the concerned citizens like you – who have consistently been addressing the financial issues – they could probably save a lot of time and money and maybe regain the trust and respect that are slipping away with every deadline. Of course that is just my opinion.

Larry Stein
Larry Stein
5 years ago

There is no explanation when target dates are not being meet such as reconciling the 14,800,000 negative cash balances by 04/01/2016. There was no mention in prior Fiscal Policy Task Force meetings that 3rd Qtr and 4th Qtr unaudited financial statements were not prepared and forwarded to meet bond convents. I am concerned what else city staff is withholding from city council members.