Spending addiction? (September 11, 2016)

I see Al Rice notices the finance charges on the Town of Apple Valley (TOAV) charge accounts and their cash flow issues. Interesting arrangement TOAV has on that subject.

TOAV has State Cal Cards (Visa), issued to Council and top 21 staff members. Visa charges, after rebates, over a quarter million — ($255,765.32), for year ending June 2016, (more than some counties). State rules for their employees, no card use for travel expenses, but not TOAV, this hides Council and staff expenditures on travel. Occasionally a card holder puts in for reimbursement, but with redactions of last 4 digits of the card used, no way to tell if those are double dipping, as seen at other agencies. The charges in April alone were $34,331.82 ($1,320.45 average per card holder after rebates), more than the average per capita annual wages in TOAV. Charges escalate every year, almost doubling in 4 years, after employee layoffs.

TOAV has charge accounts at various places of business, Home Depot, Lowes, Harbor Freight, Walmart, etc. Those accounts are for other employees without a Visa, (although sometimes Visa holders use them too), and various companies then bill TOAV. TOAV pays these late, as they do with Edison bills, hence the finance charges.

It does not stop there. TOAV also has American Express, used to pay vendors accepting AMEX, and in turn pays AMEX electronically, not posted on public warrant registers, like some of the Town Attorney payments.

By now it should be clear TOAV has a cash flow problem, but there is more. The current council (Bishop, Cusack, Emick, Nassif, and Stanton), put their seal of approval, 5-0 vote (without question or any discussion — called rubber stamping approval), on a financial report showing TOAV bank account overdrawn by $2,771,179.09, and the prior month was overdrawn $1,044,015.63. Perhaps Mr. Puckett should be told — just because he still has checks doesn’t mean he is not out of money. Maybe he thinks there is a Money Fairy, oh, I guess that would be the taxpayers who feed this over-spending, out-of-control shopping machine.

— Leane Lee, Apple Valley

Published: Daily Press, September 19, 2016