Arroyo Grande needs a financial audit
October 31, 2014
OPINION By OTIS PAGE
Considering the managerial dynamics imposed by the Arroyo Grande City manager’s “scheduled” resignation, there should be an audit of the finances and financial practices of the city. Accentuating this question is the persistent statement by the Mayor Tony Ferrara that there has been no cover up of Steve Adams admitted indiscretion during the period of July 3 up to the disclosure of the incident by CalCoastNews on Aug. 19.
What is the financial responsibility of the Arroyo Grande City Council in this matter? Why should the council — with its primary fiduciary obligation — entrust the city’s finances to a city manager who has resigned — but who will continue to manage the city’s finances for an undetermined period of time because of his conditional resignation?
Even the city manager should abdicate his financial role so that he cannot be accused of possible improper financial conduct in the future. Both Ferrara and Adams should avoid the impression there is or was a financial closeness between the two.
In this context, government watchdog/citizen activist Julie Tacker appropriately refers to the “charter cities … Bell, Stockton and Compton.” She provides the insightful commentary that of the nine-months of transition allowing Adams his full $13,000 monthly salary, that this should provide ample time for Adams to “hide skeletons” and “bury bodies.”
Buried with the bones on financial conflict is the possible allegations of financial conduct imposed by Arroyo Grande City Manager’s “scheduled” resignation. This begs the question. Must there be a call for an audit of the finances and financial practices of the city?
Tacker states, “Arroyo Grande voters are facing the question of ‘charter city’ on the Nov. 4 ballot. As they do, it is important to look at its current leadership’s questionable spending and ponder; is now the time to relax the standards in which to spend the people’s money?”
Why should the citizens be concerned with a financial audit? One answer is the concern of Adams possible financial manipulation of city funds in response to the suggestions or implied dictates of Ferrara. What are those suggested concerns? Of many, they include the subsidization of the Five Cities Fire Authority, the sanitation district financial issues, the taxing of water usage by the citizens — with no date certain to end the taxes once a the drought has been ended. And of course with all of this, as Tacker establishes, there is the charter ballot issue giving more financial leeway to the council.
Tacker adds to these concerns the fact that “the risk-taking allowed by charter cities has no place in Arroyo Grande,” such as “spending a cool million dollars on its current creek side city hall,” that the city has tried to build a police department; voters rejected paying for it — twice, that the city attempted but failed to consolidate police services with Grover Beach, fought against police department staff by hiring special counsel to ‘negotiate’ the contract.
Superimposed on all of this is the irony of the position by the League of California Cities that advocates strong financial oversight of California cities.
The irony of this magnifies Tacker’s closing judgment that, “In light of the recent expose’ by CalCoastNews, the City of Arroyo Grande, with its current leadership can’t be trusted to be a risk-taking charter city and can no longer afford Tony Ferrara as its mayor.”
Why the irony? Because Mayor Tony Ferrara is the recently elected President of the League of California Cities that by itself insists on financial oversight by the citizens.
Get links to local commentary, like CalCoastNews on Facebook.