The reality is that our taxes are not too low and our services are not too grand. Our problem - whether it is local, state, or federal – is corruption.
I have started an internal audit of the City of Imperial Beach, California. There is no lack of money. I have only done a cursory audit; looking at the budget, financial statements, and the A/P & A/R reports from 11/01/11 – 05/31/12. What I have found is a three-fold problem: Our city officials are stealing the money, giving away the money, and they are mismanaging the money.
Stealing The Money:
On the accounts payable report there are checks cut to 'U.S. Bank'. I don't know if this is a credit card or a giant box in the corner of City Hall for everyone to throw their random receipts. In six months the total is over $90,000.00. The lists of items for every check cut is 110-160 items and total from $10,000 - $20,000 every month. The random receipts include our Mayor's airline flights, drumsticks/guitar pics, and ''employee services gifts'' for employees already making over $100,000 yr., $943.83 for chairs, and more food & travel expenses than is humanly possible for 123 employees.
We have paid for a Costco membership renewal, but the City has no Costco card. $162.00 for the City Manager's Kiwanis Club dues.
In December there are five checks cut for $420.00 each to reimburse health care to our City Manager, City Clerk, HR Director, Community Development Director, & Public Safety Director. If our Firemen and line workers can pay their own health care so can the people making the highest salaries.
The 2010 Comptrollers' Report shows that Imperial Beach paid out $447,485 more than the maximum allowed by law. To subvert the wage limit law our Council and City officials have now moved their wages from the general fund to the RDA program.
If you look at the past budgets you can see the “Actuals” for the previous years – how the money came into the city and how it was used. The City is not showing the 2010 Actuals on our our current budget. The citizenry can not see how the previous years' money was actually spent. I have requested the Actuals for 2010 and 2011, but have not received them.
Giving Away The Money:
Page 42 lists the City Attorney budget at $105,000, but that is only the retainer fee. The actual checks cut to the City Attorniey is $357,031.90 through 05/31/12. I've also found checks paid to two other Attorneys so the total attorney fees paid by the city is $587,960.98. The Budget for the Year 07/01/10-06/30/11 reported City Attorney fees at $242,444, but the Actual checks so that $510,369.60 was paid to the three law firms.
On past Financial Statements page 13 shows a revenue listing for 'Contributions' – these are donations made to the City by private citizens and businesses, usually for specific purposes. In 2008 the contributions were $1,861.70, in 2009 - $2,002,224 , 2010 - $2,101,726. But on the 2011 the account disappears.
Notice how contributions rose when the economy crashed. It was very kind of the citizenry to step to the plate to help our their City. Unfortunately, they were throwing red meat to sharks.
The fuel bill from November to April is $79,928.74. Our City consumed 19,869.20 gallons of regular fuel and 1,983 gallons of diesel. I called the SKS Corporation that distributes the fuel. They told me that the bill was over $200,000 last year. I spoke to an employee where the pump is located and he assured me that all of the fuel is accounted for, everyone signs for their fuel, but when i requested the signature log I was denied.
They Are Mismanaging The Money:
Every month there are thousands of dollars worth of of AT&T telephone charges. Instead of having a bundled package the City has every phone listed separate and are paying prime rate for every call. We also spend thousands with Cox, Sprint, Verizon, and a couple communication companies I've never even heard of.
We use three water bottling companies. There are a dozen companies listed as 'consultants'. We are cutting checks to people & companies that don't even have web sites.
The City is laying off our line workers, but they are paying the Department of Corrections $3,000 - $5,000 for convicted felons to clean the side of the roads.
I have requested the A/P printout for July, 1, 2011 – October 31, 2011 and May of this year to audit all of last year. I have also requested the backup paperwork for a number of checks including the U.S. Bank checks. I will go through the receipts and tally up what every employee and company owes to the City of I.B.
To our City Officials: I will track every receipt and you will pay back every dime you stole. I will start with the previous year, then I will dig through the past years throughout your tenure.
To the Companies: No contract without consideration. If you made a slimy deal with a slimy city officials too bad for you – your contract is worthless.
I suggest that everyone contact every Council Member to let them know that you do not want them to 'approve' anything until our books are cleaned up. We have big problems in this little town, but lack of money is not one of them.
Our problem is not too little taxes or too many services; our problem is corruption. We as the citizens of Imperial Beach need to audit our books