Long Beach auditor faces challenge from private sector auditor – Press Telegram

A quick introduction to an important but often overlooked government position: An auditor is, by definition, an authorized person to review and verify the accuracy of financial records.

In Long Beach, there is an entire audit office, run by a certified public accountant, that is elected by the entire city.

That person has been Laura Doud for 16 years. She was first elected in 2006, beating then-incumbent Gary Burroughs. She has not been challenged since.

So far.

Dan Miles, 66, is a retired CPA and financial consultant who has worked for several large companies and at one point helped Port Long Beach prepare its budget, he said. The newcomer politician said he was persuaded to run by the Long Beach Reform Coalition after Doud was investigated for how he handled a consulting contract.

Miles runs, he said, to bring transparency to the finances of the entire city, from spending to revenue.

“I think one of the biggest problems facing Long Beach today is the lack of public confidence in our government,” he wrote in response to a questionnaire from this newsgroup. “Integrity. Transparency. Responsibility. These are the values ​​that I will bring to the Office of the Comptroller of the City Council.

“All expenses incurred by the council will be made available to the public on the website of the Comptroller of the City Council,” he added. “This will bring transparency to Long Beach City spending, allowing residents to understand exactly where their taxes are being spent.”

Confidence and transparency, Miles said, are key to the city’s auditor’s office, and that Doud had violated that trust. He said the investigation, sparked by a complaint to the city’s attorney over the consultancy contracts, showed he was not following accepted accounting practices, the same ones he had recommended to other departments.

Although the investigation found that documentation was missing, it did not recommend any charges or discipline. There is also an ongoing investigation by the Los Angeles County prosecutor’s office, although details have been sparse.

Doud, meanwhile, denied any wrongdoing. She also said that she accepts the recommendations to follow best practices with future consulting contracts, and that she is listed as an auditor.

“I want to assure everyone that I will serve and have been serving with honesty and deep respect for the office and the city,” Doud said. “I was facing some important decisions, and I hired a consultant with deep and relevant experience. We went through two major successful initiatives, and I was guided by a professional with years of experience.”

Doud also said the consultant, Michael Gagan, was a former state treasurer and former CalPERS board member. She said recommendations about payments from Long Beach to CalPERS, the retirement fund for government employees, were critical and she turned to Gagan for advice.

The initiatives were proposed that went into the municipal vote and were approved: a change in the letter that explicitly allowed the audit office to conduct performance audits and an increase in the city’s oil production tax, with revenues earmarked for public safety.

“When I first took office, the city had significant budget deficits,” Doud said. “I audited the tax on oil production and found that we were among the lowest at about 15 cents a barrel. So he recommended that we go to the polls to raise it to 40 ¢ a barrel plus increases (Consumer Price Index).

“Since then (2010), that has generated $ 3.5 million a year, $ 50 million so far, for more police, more firefighting resources,” he added. “He opened the East Division Substation and has so far purchased an engine for the 14th Fire Station.”

Miles said he wanted to audit transfers to the city’s general fund, which pays for the city’s basic services, from other funds. He also said he believes the city is ceding revenue in the form of tax credits.

“In 2011, the property tax was the city’s largest source of revenue,” Miles said. “It was $ 218 million more than 10 years ago. But today it’s $ 220 million. It should be $ 265 million.

“The value of real estate across the city is up 4.9%,” he added. “But the city just didn’t bill. It gave people a chance not to pay through tax breaks and the like. We need to know how deep we dig a hole and how long we’ll be in it.”

The city auditor, Miles said, works for the people. And while relations with city politicians and department heads should be cordial, he said, independence is key to the post.

“My job is to tell people the financial status of the city,” Miles said. “She (Doud) attends the staff meetings of the head of department. That is inappropriate.

You have to have a relationship, ”he added,“ but you have to be de facto independent and seemingly independent. I think he’s committed. “

Doud, however, said he has faced City Hall several times.

In 2016, for example, the City Council was debating the contract with Urban Commons to rent Queen Mary’s property, and Doud recommended that a $ 23 million transfer for repairs be delayed until the auditor’s office could review the plan.

“I was canceled,” Doud said. “They went ahead. But it was a short-term solution to a long-term problem. Since November 1, 2016, we’ve been looking for $ 285 million.

“We did a $ 23 million audit and showed that they weren’t spent properly,” he said. “There has to be a consolidation of thoughts to decide what to do.”

None of the candidates raised a lot of money in what is usually a low-profile career. Campaign funding reports submitted in late April showed that Doud raised $ 26,115 and lent $ 10,000, with $ 33,411 in the bank. Miles had put $ 20,000 of his own money into the campaign and raised $ 6,830, with $ 20,894 still available, according to financial reports.

The Long Beach City Attorney’s Office initially filed a lawsuit against Miles for his loan, which exceeded the $ 5,000 loan limit by $ 15,000. But Miles submitted documentation showing that a party had been designated as a donation and that the campaign treasurer had made an administrative error, so the city attorney dismissed the complaint.

A second financial report is due on Thursday, May 26, and a third on June 3, just days before the state primaries.

Long Beach auditor faces challenge from private sector auditor – Press Telegram Source link Long Beach auditor faces challenge from private sector auditor – Press Telegram

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