Friday, August 29, 2014

County calls grand jury report on finance department outdated

From page A1 | May 03, 2013 |

Issues raised about the county finance department in a grand jury report released Thursday were deemed outdated and in some cases, inaccurate, in a response from the county.

The report, “Yolo County Financing: Tracking Changes,” noted that there has been considerable change in the functions of the county finance department during the past few years and that changes are ongoing as the county transitions to an appointed finance director.

But the grand jury also found issues in a number of areas, including bank reconciliations and financial statements not being completed in a timely manner; new accounting software that has created a need for staff training; an audit of financial staff that shows a need for finance training and staff certification in accounting; and “widespread problems in staff morale, resulting from supervisory demands, staff cuts, lack of communication, dismissal of complaints and favoritism in many departments.”

The grand jury investigation coincided with significant changes already underway, including as a result of voter approval of Measure H last fall, which will eliminate the elected office of auditor-controller/treasurer-tax collector in favor of an appointed director of finance. The transition — effective January 2015 when current auditor-controller Howard Newens’ term ends —  will combine the fiscal functions currently performed by the county administrator’s office with those of Newens’ office, which includes most countywide accounting, auditing, collections, cash management and investment activity.

Newens said Thursday that while the grand jury report raised some valid points, “the information was outdated because they finished the investigation in January and a lot of things transpired in the first few months of the year.”

For example, the grand jury said the board of supervisors audit committee had not issued a request for proposals for an external auditor. However, Newens said, an RFP was issued in March with a recommendation for an audit firm scheduled to go before the board on Tuesday.

Efforts are also underway to increase staff competency with new financial and payroll software and both the county’s tactical plan and the county’s long-term financial planning efforts are focused already on many of the issues raised by the grand jury, Newens said.

“I just wish they had contacted us for (an update),” he said.

Meanwhile, other aspects of the grand jury report were criticized as inaccurate.

For example, the report raised questions about the board of supervisors’ audit committee — composed of two county supervisors and one private individual — saying the committee “had no financial expertise.”

However, county spokesperson Beth Gabor said the private member, Kathleen Stock, “has been a member of the audit committee since (2011) and has an MBA and finance work experience.”

As far as bank reconciliations and financial statements not being completed in a timely manner, Gabor said while the reporting may be untimely, it has not been statutorily late and no penalties have incurred. Newens added that the county has steadily reduced the delay in reporting and that all bank reconciliations are now current.

The delays, as well as the reports of low staff morale, likely have the same cause, Newens said: In the past four years, his staff has been reduced by one-third, and not all of the staff remaining possess the skills needed for the job.

“We require staff with analytical skills,” he said. “(But) previous job specifications … did not focus sufficiently on analytical skills and were geared mainly for employees of the past where processing transactions was the main responsibility.

“Now, problems need to be solved analytically, and since we don’t have the right kind of staff, staff with the right skills, in many instances there is more work pushed on the people who can do it. But our (human resources) department is the in the process of upgrading staff skills.”

As far as employees reporting a “perceived disparate treatment of non-degreed fiscal employees,” as the grand jury found, Newens said that, too, may be the result of changing skill sets needed for the job.

“We need an accountant with a four-year degree,” he said. “That’s the type of skill that we need. But the reality is the human resources system didn’t require that. It’s a discrepancy between our true needs and the civil service requirements. (And) we are trying to resolve it internally, either (by) redoing our job specifications or reconstructing our career paths so it makes sense.”

It’s all part of the long-term financial planning, he added.

“All of these are valid issues,” he said of the grand jury’s recommendations, “but we have done many of these already and a lot of things are in progress.”

— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at or 530-747-8051. Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy





Anne Ternus-Bellamy

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .


    Davis Innovation Center team fields questions

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Saving Putah Creek: a quiet concert at sunset

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Mr. Dolcini goes to Washington

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Winton to be feted for her many years of community work

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Researchers solve mystery of Death Valley’s moving rocks

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

    California extends review of $25B delta plan

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Assembly approves statewide ban on plastic bags

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Forum explores local mental health services

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Solar-cooking workshop set at Food Co-op

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Celebrate the Senior Center at Sept. 9 luncheon

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Need a new best friend?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Equestrian eventing competition slated

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Dinner, auction benefit Yolo County CASA

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Kids can sign up for a library card and get a free book

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Explorit Science Center: Volunteers supercharge summer camp

    By Lisa Justice | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Tee off for Davis’ continued prosperity

    By Lily Holmes | From Page: A4

    Bodega Marine Laboratory hosts open house

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Local group charts a year’s worth of beauty in flowers

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Free blood pressure screenings offered

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Name Droppers: UCD honors two of its own

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

    Books, conversation and poetry at Logos

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7



    Let’s sell the MRAP on eBay

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

    Seeing both sides of ‘tank’

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

    What if we need MRAP?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

    How could tank be helpful?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: C2

    Don’t sentence our police to death

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: C2, 1 Comment

    Will Davis see river water?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

    Travel buddy is getting too fat

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5



    Forget the score; focus on the energy brought by Aggies

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

    Returning seniors, new faces lead promising DHS links squad

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Devil golfers return from Scotland with smiles on their faces

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Devils scrimmage with Sac

    By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    UCD-Stanford: the clock is down to counting the minutes

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

    Sports briefs: DHS girls fall by the slimmest of net margins

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B6 | Gallery

    Wire briefs: Aces cruise past Cats at Raley

    By Wire and staff reports | From Page: B6





    ‘The November Man’: Who can be trusted?

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    B Street’s ‘The Ladies Foursome’ is aces

    By Bev Sykes | From Page: A9 | Gallery



    Technology makes a great car better

    By Ali Arsham | From Page: C1 | Gallery



    Margarita Elizondo

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Elaine Dracia Greenberg

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4