Thursday, June 30, 2016
[Tulare County] Supervisors respond to grand jury’s investigation
The Tulare County Board of Supervisors and the grand jury are at odds over the performance of the Auditor’s Office and its dealing with local special boards.
In a report published this month, the Tulare County Grand Jury found the county’s auditor has not been publishing noncompliance reports. The auditor also failed to keep track of money taken in by district and didn’t bring the districts into compliance, according to the grand jury. Both are required by state law.
In a letter, the supervisors didn’t fully agree with the grand jury’s findings. They agreed in part with the finding that the auditor doesn’t publicly and routinely report on the districts that are out of compliance.
Special interest boards include community service districts, water districts, and power authorities.
In their letter, supervisors wrote: “ … all documentation submitted is subject to the Public Records Act and available to the public upon request.”
The supervisors disagreed on the rest of the findings.
“Additionally, it is not clear from this finding with what (statue or otherwise) the auditor is allegedly not making efforts to bring the districts into compliance, nor whether the Board or the Auditor has any authority to do so,” according to the letter.
The board will continue to have education workshops about government transparency.
On the finding of the auditor’s office not having certified resolutions on file, the supervisors said it cannot agree or disagree.
“The board does not have full knowledge of the interaction between the special district and auditor’s office in acquiring missing resolutions. Additionally, it appears to be the responsibility of the special district … to transmit the appropriate paperwork,” the response stated.
The grand jury is recommending the auditor exercises due diligence executing duties and responsibilities.
The responses were presented during Tuesday’s board meeting.
By state law, county auditors are required to audit special district boards on an annual basis. Previous grand juries requested documentation on the audits and the requests led to finding districts that had failed to turn in the required documents, in some cases, for years.
The discoveries prompted an investigation into the auditor’s office.
The district boards
In a correspondence sent to the grand jury, some of the special districts admitted failing to be current on audits.
In a letter dated July 2015, the Alpaugh Community Services District told the grand jury: “There was apparently a miscommunication between ourselves and our auditors, for which we must take responsibility. We have been under the impression that all audit reports were automatically transmitted to the required recipients.”
In a letter dated June 12, 2015, the Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District reported audits for the years 2012, 2013 and 2014 were completed and accepted by the district’s directors.
“Unfortunately, after each approval by the KDWCD Board of Directors the three missing audit reports were inadvertently not filed with the Tulare County Auditor. The failure to file the audit reports in question was the result of miscommunication between KDWCD and the Certified Public Accountant who performed the audits.”
The Lindsay Strathmore Memorial District and the Poplar Community Service District reported they completed annual audits but they were also not sent to the auditor's office.
June 28, 2016
By Luis Hernandez