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Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Council Unanimously OKs Audit of City-LASD Contract

• Action Is Standard Municipal Practice

BY BILL KOENEKER


The Malibu City Council this week unanimously approved a contract with a consulting firm to audit the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and the Local Agency Formation Commission agreement with the county.
“This is not accusing anybody of anything,” said Councilmember Lou La Monte, when the council was discussing the agenda item.
“That’s correct,” agreed Assistant City Manager Reva Feld man. “It is a standard practice.”
Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich asked if the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy could be included in the audit for revenue from citations issued by the state agency.
City Manager Jim Thorsen said the city has requested the information from the SMMC and has made a public records request, but has not yet heard from the state agency.
Mayor John Sibert said he did not know if the city could even audit the Conservancy since it is a state agency and the city and SMMC have no contract.
Conley Ulich also wanted to know if the audit would include a review of the travel time of the deputies from the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station to Malibu. By way of an answer, Feldman said the auditing firm would make no recommendations.
Lance, Soll & Lunghard, LLP, which carries out the financial audits of the city is being asked to perform an audit of the sheriff’s department “ascertaining that the city has received the proper level of service…and the county has properly abided by certain LAFCO agreements.”
The agenda item makes no mention of the auditing firm doing a comparative audit to see what Malibu is charged compared to Agoura Hills, Westlake Village or Hidden Hills. The council did not address that matter.
They are cities of nearly like size that also contract out for law enforcement services. Some critics contend that Malibu is charged much higher rates than some of those other municipalities, but that has never been verified by an outside independent consultant.
The one-time audit by LSL, which conducts the interim, annual and single audits of the city each year, would cost an additional $14,500.
Municipal officials also want the auditors to verify proper amounts the city has received for citation fines collected by the California Highway Patrol which are split 50 percent to the city and 50 percent to the county.
Fines collected from sheriff-issued citations are split 89 percent to the city and 11 percent to the county.
The number of citations issued within the City of Malibu has reportedly increased substantially since the city contracted with the sheriff’s department for a second motor unit last year.

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