Monday, August 4, 2014

Solano County Supervisors point out inaccuracies in grand jury report

July 22, 2014
The Reporter, Vacaville
By Melissa Murphy

During fiscal year 2013-14 the Solano County grand jury has created 17 reports about various departments and processes within the county, some heavily critical of what it found.
One of those reports on the Intellitime time keeping system showed that the county spent more than $1 million installing the system that has yet to be fully implemented.
However, that's not entirely the case, according to county staff.
During the Solano County Board of Supervisors meeting onTuesday, Auditor-Controller Simona Padilla-Scholtens explained that the grand jury report overstated the cost of the system and that an appropriation of $481,720 was inaccurately lumped into the grand jury's total as a cost.
"The number was erroneously included as a cost," she said and added that it was instead an adjustment in how they account for the cost of the project.
Padilla-Scholtens also told the board that it was an enormous project and staff were very aware of the complexity of implementing the program, that's why they created a team to address the issues. However, many of the delays were unanticipated, she said.
Padilla-Scholtens also noted that even though she was specifically mentioned in the report on Fund 173, a funding mechanism for a joint powers agreement between the cities to address homelessness. A grand jury report released in June shows a shortfall of $742,675.42 pre-audit.
Padilla-Scholtens said she was surprised to be mention specifically in the report when she was not interviewed by the grand jury. She explained that it's a Joint Powers Authority between the cities and the county and not a county department. She's also not sure how she was designated as the treasurer-auditor for the JPA and couldn't find documents supporting that designation.
Additionally, Padilla-Scholtens said the JPA has the authority to enter into a contract with an independent CPA, as it has done in the past.
"I felt it was important for the public to know that I did not fail in my fiduciary responsibility," she said.
After a presentation by the grand jury, Supervisor Jim Spering said he's not sure how it benefitted anyone since they came before the public before staff and the board of supervisors had an opportunity to respond to the findings in the report.
"The appropriation was a misrepresentation by the grand jury," he said of the Itellitime report. "It miss characterizes the appropriations."
"It's in appropriate when we haven't had a chance to respond," he added.
Supervisor Linda Seifert said she was concerned because the presentation does come across as one sided.
The law does allow for the departments and the board to respond to the grand jury reports in a timely manner. County Counsel Dennis Bunting explained that the responsible agency has 60 days to respond and then the board has 90 days to respond.
Supervisor John Vasquez also weighed in and said the reports are a snapshot in time of what was and that the process doesn't allow for flexibility. He also said the grand jury, while holding the county administration accountable, intends to find things wrong and that's easy to do when you're looking for it.
"It's like a beached whale, it's easy to harpoon," he said.

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