To be, or not to be … transparent (September 28, 2016)

Concern for what has been, and is happening in the Town of Apple Valley is with the Town’s financial records. Given the ongoing, blatant errors, omissions, and deceptions, there appears to be a pattern of behavior leading to the existing condition of the financial reporting. Council persists in ignoring it, and fails in exercising their due diligence in safe guarding the pubic funds. This is no less egregious than the actions by staff, and frankly, makes the Council more culpable. Council are elected to represent the taxpayers’ interest, staff are not elected to represent the people.

The first Transparency Report in August, 2015, staff stated the water acquisition was a Project, and there was no fund for the project to track expenditures. Remember the Golf Course acquisition, also a project, had a fund established long before the Town took ownership, but it also did not correctly disclose expenditures. The common thread of both acquisitions is the shell game manner expenditures are handled and actual costs hidden.

The latest semi-annual Transparency Report was a failure. Council said the reports would be monthly, then, with the next tardy report, staff said they would be quarterly, and in the end they appeared at about six month increments. Even with the extensive time allowed for reporting, the inaccuracies continue. Each time expenses are omitted it erodes the credibility of the reports. For example, the Blue Ribbon Water Committee expenditures were omitted, including all the Bartle Wells costs of almost $80,000. The latest report omits cost of the second True North Research survey in 2015. If Council and staff want credibility it must be earned through accuracy, or be held accountable. It is in their hands, and their hands alone, to determine how they will be perceived by the public.

Leane Lee, Apple Valley