Eight months ago the Town of Apple Valley officially acknowledged what concerned citizens had been saying for years: Spending was way out of line (“More cuts to hit Town Hall amid budget crunch,” Daily Press, April 22, 2018). From sky-high salaries and pensions to wasteful practices to downright unnecessary (and in some cases improper) expenditures, the Town had blown through millions in reserves and was facing a $2.6 million budget shortfall. Everyone was going to have to feel the pinch, we were told.
We don’t know what’s really going on in Town Hall because Town Manager Doug Robertson will not allow a full independent (let alone forensic) audit, even in the wake of the departures of the two top finance officers, and getting financial data out of Town Hall is notoriously difficult.
But let’s look at some numbers that are available. In 2012, the Town paid law firm BB&K $405,886. By 2014, that amount was up to $710,801. A year later in 2015, $1,439,438. Last year, 2017, that amount was $1,276,852. The year-to-date total for 2018 is already $1,306,394, a $29,542 (2.31%) increase over 2017. That’s a 221% increase in under 6 years. There are also attorney payments to Jones & Mayer, Stradling Yocca Carlson and Rauth ($80,000), and Chapman Cutler LLP ($120,000).
Charles Abbott Associates, the Town’s engineering firm, has already received 167% more in 2018 than in 2012.
By comparison, the increase in policing costs (which we were assured will sink the Town’s finances) have gone up only 24% since 2012.
Perhaps the worst aspect is that Town Hall’s spending practices are removing the benefits of living in our rural community while amplifying the disadvantages.
Citizens for Government Accountability
Published: Daily Press, December 26, 2018