Arroyo Grande needs a financial audit

October 31, 2014

AG signOPINION 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.

 

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57 Comments

  1. dogeatdog says:

    I can say that the COMFORT MARKET in AG is 1000% behind Tony. As I pulled up to the curb this weekend to park the owner came running out and yelled “TONY FOR MAYOR”

    I guess that is one more place I don’t need to spend my money. I thought she was accused of embezzlement, why is she not in jail. It seems like all the crooks want to do business in AG with a restaurant, First Robert’s and now Comfort market.

    (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  2. LeAnn says:

    We need to push for this audit depending on the results of the campaign on Tuesday…some people might see this a divisive, I see it as a way for the remaining skeletons in the closet to come out, be known to all, and then drive politics in the city of AG in a different direction. Something has got to change—and we are just the people to make it happen.

    (6) 6 Total Votes - 6 up - 0 down
  3. agag1 says:

    AG Ordinance 2.08.080 states:
    The council and its members shall deal with the administrative service of the city only through the city manager, except for the purposes of inquiry, and neither the council, NOR ANY MEMBER THEREOF, SHALL GIVE ORDERS TO ANY OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE of the city under the supervision of the city manager. The city manager shall take his or her orders and instructions only from the council as a body, and no individual member of the council shall give any order or instruction to the city manager.

    It’s not the neon yellow signs giving code enforcement personnel a headache, it’s the chronic calling and high pitched whining of an obsessed resident who is responsible for the majority of the complaints.

    Good thing our police have a sense of humor. I’m sure they also appreciate the fact that Jim Hill supporters have better things to do than call and complain about the opponent’s in appropriately placed signs.
    Volunteers on both sides have passion, it’ll all be over on Tues.

    (11) 15 Total Votes - 13 up - 2 down
    • StakeHolder says:

      Could that “high pitched whining of an obsessed resident” also be sitting as a councilmember? I hear she has been calling and placing signs all over town.

      (11) 15 Total Votes - 13 up - 2 down
  4. falconbh says:

    State Auditor Complaints:

    Arroyo Grande
    South County Sanitation District
    Oceano Community Services District

    http://www.auditor.ca.gov/hotline

    (10) 14 Total Votes - 12 up - 2 down
  5. falconbh says:

    State Joint Committee On Audits

    legaudit.assembly.ca.gov/faq

    (7) 11 Total Votes - 9 up - 2 down
  6. Girlscout says:

    Regarding signs in and around the city has gotten out of control, I do have knowledge from the inside that there has been calls to the Police Dept with threats and demands from a certain female council member that Jim Hill signs be removed at once, who the heck does she think she is? I can tell you that there are no police officers out telling people to put up signs in their yards. The police have stayed very quite on this, the POA endorsement says plenty.

    (19) 25 Total Votes - 22 up - 3 down
    • casappleton says:

      Kristen Fellows Barneich I did the same Aaron Ochs. I was accused of visiting businesses and threatening them to take their signs down, or threatening them that if they didn’t vote for Ferrara the City would never do business w/them again. I have never visited one business and spoken a word about Jim Hill sign…not one. And I’ve never threatened someone to vote for Ferrara. I asked the accuser to please provide me with the business owners I’ve supposedly contacted…he provided none. Just said my name had come up. Just because I support the Mayor and am one of the volunteers putting his signs up, doesn’t mean I’m harassing Jim Hill supporters. I’m not into dirty politics. I play fair.
      Like · 1 · 23 hours ago…..

      Girlscout: apparently the cops keep lying

      (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  7. MaryMalone says:

    The kind of audit they need is a forensic audit, which will include looking for evidence which can be used in court.

    The way financial audits usually work in government agencies varies greatly in their findings. I know of one local agency who would just give the auditor the books they wanted to show him/her. Most of the time, the auditor did not ask for other figures. I think this is because they want to have the agency as a return client.

    So it needs to be a truly independent auditor who has a record of finding corruption which can be prosecuted in court.

    (22) 24 Total Votes - 23 up - 1 down
    • StakeHolder says:

      Maybe we can get a discount if they do a forensic audit on the City AND Sanitation District at the same time!

      (12) 16 Total Votes - 14 up - 2 down
    • casappleton says:

      yes yes yes,,,forensic audit of San Dist. then we can prosecute the crooks
      \

      (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down

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