Hemet Measure U Oversight Committee seeks outside audits

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Hemet’s most recent accomplishments for the residents of the city were presented to the city council in a video made by the city staff at its Sept. 22 regular meeting. A letter from the Measure U Oversight Committee saying they were seeking outside audits for revenues and expenditures was accepted by the council as well.

H.P. Kang, director of city development, presented the video, showing the city’s progress improving its streets, conducting Public Works projects, adopting COVID-19 policies to assist businesses and introducing the library’s Excess Service Program. The video is available to the public on the “Hemet Minute Matters” highlight reel on the city’s website.

In recent months, the city made improvements from Kirby Street from Devonshire to Menlo avenues; resurfaced Whittier Avenue; installed a new traffic signal at Auto Drive and Warren Road; resurfaced other roads citywide and replaced some missing sidewalks. The city staff brought forward ideas to prevent the spread of COVID-19 through outdoor dining, FaceTime inspections, outdoor service delivery and temporary sign permits. Self-service hours have been created at the Hemet Library. City crews helped the Southern California Gas Co. and Eastern Municipal Water District to repair a major gas line break over two days and brought Rally’s Crazy Good Food and Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers to the city.

The city council accepted a letter from Eric Gosch, chairman of the Measure U Oversight Committee, saying the committee is hiring two outside auditors to audit the measures revenues and expenditures from 2018. The city council did hear presentations of Measure U expenditures during the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report review, but they were not made before the Oversight Committee, as is required under city ordinance in 2018.

The committee said a letter to the council, “At the Sept. 3, 2020, meeting of the Measure U Oversight Committee, staff presented the fiscal year 2018-2019 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. Most of the committee was aware that there were allocation errors made in both fund balances and revenues for Measure U in the original CAFR, and that these errors were corrected in advance of the Aug. 11, city council meeting. We discussed in detail the misallocation of these items with city management and noted that they had been corrected to the committee’s satisfaction. At no time does the committee believe that any funds were ‘missing,’ ‘stolen’ or ‘misspent.’ The incorrect amounts in the balance and revenue were obvious to the committee and have no effect on our implementation of Measure U.

“The committee acknowledges and appreciates the diligence of city staff in correcting this item. As a result of our review, we have received and filed the corrected fiscal year 2018-2019 CAFR. In our efforts to increase transparency, in June 2020, the committee discussed an independent review of Measure U revenues and expenditures with the goal of providing additional detail and assurance to the public regarding Measure U. As a result, the committee has recommended an ‘Agreed Upon Procedures’ review of Measure U revenues and expenditures by an independent outside CPA firm paid for by Measure U funds, for fiscal year 2018-2019 and fiscal year 2019-2020.

“While a CPA firm cannot legally perform a true ‘audit’ of Measure U, the AUP is the standard process CPA firms use in this type of fund. This will ensure that all action surrounding Measure U is in conformance with the governing ordinance and applicable resolutions. The committee is requesting this AUP not because of any distrust of city staff or its accounting processes, but out of an abundance of caution, and because we take our task seriously. The committee is committed to continuing through oversight of the city’s expenditures of Measure U funds for public safety and the city’s annual independent audit. Thank you for the trust the community and council have placed in us,” according to the committee’s letter.

The council thanked Gosch and accepted the letter without much comment. The issue of how the city has been spending the Measure U funding in recent years has been the subject of public comment for the past year.

Approved on the consent calendar were: a resolution awarding a three-year agreement for landscape maintenance services to Adame Landscape Inc. in the amount not to exceed $1,441,982.40; a resolution approving application for Southern California Gas Co. grant funds and ratified Hemet’s Temporary Outdoor Business Program.

They also discussed a resolution declaring a limitation for campaign contributions to candidates for elective offices in Hemet, leaving staff to return with some possible contribution limits. They heard an update of the proposed changes to the 2019 California Code of Regulations to bring the city into compliance.

The council directed staff to enforce the Construction Hours Policy and Qualified Individual Policy effective through Dec. 31, 2022. The policies reflect the city council’s intent to revise the Hemet Municipal Code and further directed staff to incorporate the policies into the proposed ordinance that will be proposed at a future council meeting.

The council granted a waiver for Last Chance Performance Marine for the undergrounding utility lines related to the proposed improvements at 601 South Sanderson Ave. based on a finding of undue hardship to the developer and determination that granting of the waiver would not result in a negative impact to the public health, safety or welfare.

Tony Ault can be reached by email at tault@reedermedia.com.