Municipal Finance 101 (February 25, 2016)

I am offering a lesson in Municipal Finance 101, which should be beneficial not only in covering the Town of Apple Valley, but all the other agencies in the High Desert. I am doing this because there seems to be a lack of understanding generally.

These are not my interpretations or expectations, they come from the California League of Cities as part of their instructional material for newly elected officials, which all the cities and councils in the High Desert appear to attend at taxpayer expense. It begs the question, did they listen or just go to party? (See excerpts of publication attached).

With regard to the Town of Apple Valley, it seems that only a few well informed citizens recognize the warning signs (red flags, if you will).

Have the following escaped the notice of the press:

  • Annual Report (CAFR) due no later than six months following the close of the fiscal year. June 30, 2015, was the end of fiscal year 2014-2015. Where is the report? When will the elected body command compliance? Why are they not concerned? Elected officials should be demanding staff compliance as the public’s fiduciary representatives.
  • Annual Independent Audit, completed prior to Annual Report. Again, where is it and the same prior comments apply to the elected body. Additionally, why has the elected body ignored the standard to change auditors every few years? Ah, they might suggest they did. However, close examination would show that when they switched from Teaman and Ramirez to Van Lant & Fankhanel LLP, they merely changed the company. The partner from Teaman and Ramirez started a new company, from his home in Loma Linda, and the town essentially has the same individual as primary on the audits, Greg Fankhanel. Did the Town check out this brand new company, who is operating at home, is it really a Limited Liability Partnership, which is required to be registered with the California Secretary of State? Not rocket scientist stuff and other than a few minutes of Internet research would reveal it is not registered with the state, and it cost nothing to check. Town records show same auditor (individual) for the past nine years and counting.
  • For the past six years the elected body has mandated monthly budget status reports in their adoption of their annual budget resolution (available online at the Town website). However, no monthly budget status reports exist. One only needs to review the annual budget for the past four years (available online), to see the Town’s finance department has had monthly budget status reports as a goal to accomplish, and has failed to do so repeatedly. But the elected body is distracted and sings the praises of staff, even calling them Award Winning. Really — if you do not understand an integrated financial system, at least talk to someone who is at the minimum adept at QuickBooks, and see what it takes to produce a monthly budget status report. Most likely it takes less time and effort than writing one short column in the paper.
  • Treasurer’s reports due within 30 days of the end of the quarter. Oh, make no mistake there are Treasurer’s reports monthly, just some 60 or more days after the end of the effective day of the month, just as warrant registers are all 60 or more days late. Warrants after the fact with rubber stamped signatures. I won’t even begin to go into the significant deficiencies related to warrant registers, the budget, fund transfers, and on and on, or this email would be too large to send.

Is it any wonder why Marc Puckett personally attacks publicly the citizens who see so many red flags flying over the taxpayer dollars? Citizens who have the strength of character and integrity to do what is right in the face of their own peril. No wonder about it, and everyone who drinks from the Puckett Kool-aid will soon get sick to their stomach from the sickening sweet distractions being heaped upon the community and press. Will the citizens be content to sing the songs from Concerts in the Park and other events on their way to the poorhouse?

As Eldridge Cleaver said, If you are not a part of the solution, you are a part of the problem.

— Concerned Citizen

Published: Daily Press