Saturday, May 19, 2012

(Kern) County Supes respond to Grand Jury report

By Stephanie Forshee - Daily Independent

The Kern County Board of Supervisors (BOS) responded this week to a Grand Jury report filed in February.

The Administration and Audit Committee received two written complaints and numerous verbal questions and comments from citizens regarding activities and expenses incurred by members of the BOS - regarding questionable discretionary fund carryover, travel expenses, transportation and safety.

With the exception of four items, the BOS said that the Grand Jury’s findings are substantially correct.

The BOS disagreed on a statement regarding the FY 2009-2010, which read: “Oversight exercised over the SDF [Supervisors’ Discretionary Funds] is lax or non-existent’ is inaccurate.” The BOS argued that “expenditure of the SDF is in compliance with all County policies and procedures related to accounting or procurement processes.”

While the Grand Jury stated the opposite, the BOS stands that the Grand Jury was provided a detailed listing of expenditures from the SDF. The report was also corrected on two factual errors such as the location of the BOS’ official meeting place and that the Second District Supervisor does not currently maintain an office in Tehachapi.

In its response to the recommendations, the BOS replied: “The first recommendation is to appropriate 50 percent of each Supervisor’s discretionary fund allocation as a contingency fund and the remaining 50 percent be allocated to the Supervisor who would then submit a written request stipulating the purpose, cost and estimated date of completion for a project to the Board for approval, and to institute an annual formal review of long term programs/project identified by the Supervisors. For budgeting purposes, appropriating the Supervisors’ allocations in any percentage to either a contingency fund or a budget unit achieves the same result as the status quo, restricting funds for the Supervisors’ projects. Funds that are not used in any given year roll over in the General Fund carryover balance and still require Board approval during the budget process to appropriate for the next fiscal year.

“In complying with all County policies and procedures, many of the expenditures from the discretionary funds are presented to the Board for approval with notification of the funding source. The remaining expenditures are accomplished through established and audited interdepartmental charging procedures. The Supervisors’ allocations and potential projects are reviewed frequently as priorities change and allocations are redirected. The County has provided information on these projects upon request and will consider preparing an annual recap.”

The BOS also stated that it is in the process of developing a policy for “office bases” - Supervisors’ remote office locations.

In response to concern over mileage accrued for committee members and that some accrue more than others, the BOS explained how the Chairman assigns supervisors to committees: “The incumbent supervisor should be reappointed unless that supervisor provides notification to the chairman that his/her option for reappointment will not be exercised...In the event that the incumbent supervisor has relinquished his/her right to reappointment, the most senior supervisor requesting to serve on the committee, commission or board should be appointed...Should the chairman choose to deviate from the recommended procedure provided...a majority vote of the Board is required to confirm the appointment.”

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