Sanitation district should not edit the audit
December 2, 2015
OPINION by MARK LONDON
The South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District Board owes the rate payers, who are financing the audit, the right to view the entire unredacted audit.
Earlier this year, the sanitation district board authorized the expenditure of $77,500 to perform a financial and managerial audit of the district from 2002 thru 2013, when the district was under the management of John Wallace. At the time of retention of the auditor Carl R. Knudson, there were no restrictions as to the direction or interpretation of discovery.
At the last meeting of the sanitation district board, some board members discussed reviewing the report prior to its public release to allow potential confidential personnel information to be redacted. Part and parcel of the audit is to review all acts of the individuals at the district, not their personnel information, unless, of course, there are issues of relevance.
The audit is to be part of a process which includes the complete Knudson’s report to bring clarity to the historic run away budget and what happened to the oversight by the board, the director, legal adviser and various abuses by personnel. In its entirety, the information would allow the ratepayers and board members the opportunity to learn from past mistakes and develop corrections to the system of oversight and operations. It was not meant as a “witch hunt.”
There are multiple allegations of questionable actions and inaction. If these issues and concerns are blocked from public view, how can there be anything gained from the report? It is imperative that the entire report be released, as written, without edit or redaction by the board under the guise of personnel privilege.
The board has recently adopted a rate structure that will include the $1.1 million fine imposed by the water board on the district. The board has already paid out at least $1.5 million in fighting this fine to date. As ratepayers, we have the right to know how our money was spent over the course of Wallace’s administration and what was discovered by the Knudson detailed audit so as to never repeat the district’s costly history.
Please join me in encouraging the board to hear the report in public as soon as it’s ready to be released.
The sanitation district meets at 6 p.m. on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday’s of each month at the Arroyo Grande City Council Chambers at 215 E. Branch St., in Arroyo Grande.
Mark London is a rate payer who has lived in Arroyo Grande for 21 years.
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