Controller Tells Cities, Agencies: Hand Over Your Spending Info
The State Controller’s office is scolding more than 100 local governments and special districts for failing to turn over financial data — including detailed information on employee salaries — as required by state law.
Sasha Khokha, the Central Valley bureau chief for KQED’s The California Report, says the controller has called out 126 agencies for being more than a year late with financial disclosures. The delinquent governments are mostly small water, fire and utility districts, but also include the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. And nine cities, including bankrupt Stockton and the Kern county oil town of Taft, population 6,900.
Local governments have long been required to send financial reports to the state. But after the scandal in the city of Bell over inflated salaries, they now have to include more detailed information about employee wages and benefits, too.
The salary data from agencies across the state goes into the controller’s public pay website, Government Compensation in California. The site contains lots of juicy tidbits about who’s making what in government service, including the unnamed Beverly Hills cop who cleared $433,000 in 2011 (most of that in a lump-sum payment, presumably on retirement) or the former city manager in Indian Wells, Riverside County, who made $677,000 (a payment that included $446,000 in “other pay,” mostly from a severance package that paid him an extra year’s salary).
Jacob Roper, a spokesman for the State Controller John Chiang, says the 126 agencies on the list are all more than a year late with their financial reports. “This is very valuable data,” Roper said. “The taxpayers, the policymakers, the leaders in these local governments, really get a disservice if this information isn’t provided to them.”
Taft City Manager Craig Jones says the city is late because of some staff changes in the accounting department at City Hall. He says Taft has nothing to hide.
“We are a very small city and we have limited staff,” Jones said. “We definitely don’t like making the naughty list for any reason, so we’re working very diligently to compile the information.”
Connie Cochran, public information officer for Stockton, says the city has already acknowledged that it’s tardy in filing financial data with the controller. She says the city will file the overdue reports by the end of the year.
Here’s the audio for Sasha Khokha’s story: