State Controller Betty Yee Thursday published a review of the city of Baldwin Park, which found a “serious” lack of internal financial control measures, “resulting in poor contracting and accounting practices and a questionable pay increase for a top city official.”

Yee stated the most significant findings were identified in fiscal years 2016-2017 and 2017-2018.

The findings included:

— The city authorized $279,020 for construction plans for a park project, eventually spending $507,176 only to cancel the project after three years with no identifiable public benefit for the expenditures.

— Baldwin Park terminated its chief of police in September 2016. It then re-hired him in May 2017 and in the year leading up to his retirement, raised his salary by $41,233 more than the maximum allowed for the position at the time, giving the impression of “pension spiking.”

— The city entered into an on-call service contract for projects up to $120,000 without additional approval, despite a city law requiring City Council approval for projects of $25,000 and up. It then exceeded the $120,000 limit by an additional $22,639.

— City officials commonly approved or extended contracts without competitive bidding, and vendors of commonly available products were designated improperly as sole-source contractors to circumvent purchasing policies and procedures.

— Monthly bank reconciliations, which are effective at detecting fraud or errors when performed in a timely manner, were conducted up to 98 days late.

Calls to the city of Baldwin Park seeking comment were not immediately returned.

Yee stated that of the 48 fundamental components, principles and attributes of effective internal control systems as established by the federal Government Accountability Office, Baldwin Park demonstrated just 26 — 54% — were present and functioning. Five were not present, and 17 were present but not functioning.

Yee has requested the city provide a progress update in six months.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.