RESIDENT CONCERNS ON CITY FINANCES:
Requesting a State Audit
January 15, 2021
A negative State Controller’s audit in 2015 became a tool to improve West Covina’s management and fiscal practices. The previous council started the correction process. Quite candidly, that process required departments stay within their budget allocations and realistic expectations on what the city can and cannot afford by employees and residents alike. In November 2018, union influence in our city council election resulted in a new council majority taking office which in turn resulted in a new administration.
This page explains the issues that prompted a group of West Covina residents petition the State Auditor to audit our city and the State audit process.
Copy of the December 9, 2019 letter mailed with the resident petitions requesting the State Auditor audit West Covina. The letter summarizes the actions the City Council took that prompted the petition and the reason why the resident petition effort was taken.
Blank copy of the petition form residents signed. The petition lists three issues of concern, requests the State Auditor conduct an audit of our city and recommend corrective action.
Letter dated December 19, 2019 notifying the City of West Covina the State Auditor has identified certain factors that indicate West Covina may be a high-risk local government agency and that the State Auditor will conduct an initial assessment.
Letter dated January 13, 2020 to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee (JLAC) confirming the State Auditor had conducted an onsite assessment in early January 2020 and determined that West Covina is potentially a high-risk city. The letter summarizes the city financial situation and pension liabilities, and the cities current budget management. The letter concludes with the California State Auditor recommending their office audit of the City of West Covina.
Link to California State Assembly Joint Committee Meeting Wednesday, February 26, 2020 Meeting Video.
Since this is a meeting, various agenda items, including the State Auditor's High Risk program, are discussed throughout the meeting. During the meeting, Auditor Howle stated:
“We went out and engaged with the city, didn't really hear things that were convincing us that they had everything under control or had adequate plans to deal with their fiscal situation."
Link to the State Auditor website page “Fiscal Health of California Cities”.
Link to flowchart showing the protocols the California State Auditor follows to determine whether a local government agency is at high risk.
The State Auditor visited West Covina in January 2020 (Protocols 4 & 5). The results of the State Auditor's Initial Assessment Visit was the recommendation that a full audit of our city be conducted (Protocol 6).
On February 26, 2020 the Joint Legislative Audit Committee (JLAC) approved the State Auditor's recommendation that a full audit of the City of West Covina be conducted (Protocol 7).
State Auditor 2020 Audit Scope and Objectives for Local High Risk- City of West Covina. (Protocol 7)
Original Estimated Release Date: August 2020
During the Coronavirus lockdown, the State Auditor's website stated, "To recognize that local government officials are directing their energy and attention to the safety and well-being of their communities, the State Auditor has temporarily placed this audit on hold."
Revised Estimated Release Date: November 2020
Visual handout we created showing how residents can monitor the State Audictor’s actions with the City of West Covina.
Reporter Christopher Yee’s December 10, 2019 article “West Covina residents want state to audit city finances”.
The State Auditor Report released December 1, 2020
City of West Covina: Its Deteriorating Financial Situation Threatens its Fiscal Stability and Its Ability to Provide City Services
The State Auditor’s website -- www.auditor.ca.gov/local_high_risk/dashboard-csa -- has a wealth of searchable information on the financial health of California’s 450 plus cities. The City of West Covina’s statewide overall ranking by the State Auditor from 2016 to 2019 is compared in this chart using data on the State Auditor's website. The lower the number the more serious the financial risk.
We would like the City Council to explain what happened that caused West Covina to go from Rank 20 in 2017-18 to Rank 9 in 2018-19 and what is being done to improve the situation?
City Council Meeting | January 19, 2021
Agenda Item 29 - Corrective Action Plan
The City of West Covina is required to submit a corrective action plan in response to the State Auditor's report. The city council must approve the plan before it can be transmitted to the State Auditor.