Off Beat: It adds up to trouble
Nobody expects officials working in Yuba County's special districts to have MBAs from Harvard, but it's getting a little ridiculous.
A disturbing trend occurred in the county during the golden age of suburban sprawl, and it's only coming to light now.
Earlier this year, this column noted the travails of Reclamation District 784.
During the growth explosion in southern Yuba County, RD 784 had to account for millions of dollars of developer fees.
An audit done by an outside firm said the district had a bit of a problem in 2005-07.
"The district did not maintain accounting records of developer deposits or grant billings," the audit noted.
"The district's administrative employee worked only part time and did not realize the responsibility to maintain accounting records for the developer deposits and grants," the audit continued. "She was under the impression the district's engineering firm kept the accounting records as they approved expenditures."
RD 784 "incurred substantial expense in reconstructing the developer deposit accounts, obtaining evidence to support their accounting records and reconciling several years of development activity," the audit said.
Now it's the turn of the Olivehurst Public Utility District.
As this paper noted last month, OPUD also experienced some accounting miscues.
An audit firm told OPUD directors that the district's 2007-08 books included "many misstatements of your accounts, to the point that we cannot render an opinion that your financial statements are presented fairly.
"It is not just a matter of lack of supporting documentation for the Developer Deposits account. Transactions have occurred throughout the year that have been misclassified, some of which were not detected for a long time, some not until the audit started, and there are most likely many more transactions that have been misclassified," Marcello said.
Most of the problems stemmed from accounts the district set up for developer payments when OPUD began experiencing rapid growth in the last five years as Plumas Lake was built.
Things were so bad that a Sacramento accountant told the district he couldn't make any sense out of its books and it would cost the district too much to hire him.
And so you have to wonder what really was going on as developers urbanized Plumas Lake
You never know
Strange things appear on the Internet. Sometimes they're so strange they deserve a mention here.
The Web site sfist.com noted that an attorney, Richard Gilbert, wants a gay marriage court case to be used as a springboard to get a measure on the ballot to split California in two: Everything north of Los Angeles County would allow gay marriage and would be part of "New California." To the south of L.A., no gay marriage.
The sfist writer then observed, "Clearly Mr. Gilbert has never spent any time in exotic places like Bakersfield, Fresno, and Yuba City, soon to be relegated to gay loving New California."
Don't worry, Yuba City residents. It's unlikely this court case, which has been kicking around since 2004, will get anywhere.
But you never know.