The Highway 18 office of Apple Valley News has “closed” signage. The Town of Apple Valley sends legal notices to their Hesperia office of the Apple Valley News each Friday, which then forwards it via U.S. Postal Service to only 100 subscribers as it has done for years. The annual cost to taxpayers is well over $1,000.
Recent Daily Press letter “Cut the Credit Cards” is great headline advice to the Town of Apple Valley and taxpayer residents. Public Records reveal that 90 employees use 27 credit cards, an unknown number of American Express cards with thousands in monthly bill payments for many invoices, a very large number of gas cards and high value (thousands) for electronic fund transfers (wire transfers). Staff are using credit cards with others’ names, little if any, guidance and controls are absent and instances of non-employees are using the town’s credit cards. Each and all of these should ask “why” is this going on for years? Airfares are made on short notice with associated higher costs. My observations of invoices and signature sign-offs containing typical notations is not considered to be appropriate of the many “best practices” controls necessary on the many front-end risks associated with credit card usage by a public agency.
I chuckled at the headline story of the May 14 Daily Press, “Sewer fees on the rise in Apple Valley,” by Matthew Cabe. Oh, the sweet irony! Oh, the hypocrisy!
It was brought to my attention that the Institute for Local Government (ILG) publication, that is affiliated with the League of California Cities, referenced the high risk of credit card misuse at a conference that was well attended by the Council for the Town of Apple Valley (TOAV).
Once upon a time and before she was elected to the Apple Valley Town Council, Barb Stanton was a leader of the High Desert Tea Party movement. She portrayed herself as a conservative opposed to higher taxes and government waste. She railed against the abuse and misuse of taxpayer dollars.
I have known Doug Robertson, Apple Valley’s new town manager, for many years going back to my days of being on the Victorville City Council while he was the city manager over there. We haven’t always seen eye to eye.
The latest Office of Office of Inspector General (OIG) Report on the Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority (VVWRA) is now available. In it, the OIG recommends that FEMA should disallow the more than $33 million in grant funds awarded to the Authority for Project 828 and coordinate with DHS for any applicable suspension and debarment actions.
Fifteen-hundred-dollar hotel bills for two-night and three-day conferences in Long Beach — $1,500! That is the latest gem I have uncovered on the Council expense reports and credit card statements.
Citing a $2.6 million budget shortfall, the Apple Valley Town Council unanimously approved reductions in employee compensation and benefits last week. However, that only produces $455,000 in savings and Town Manager Doug Robertson is hinting at cuts in services to make up the rest.
What is so fascinating is that in 2018 it is so easy and relatively painless for local governments to be transparent and accountable to the taxpayers. For example, take my recent investigation into the expense reports and credit card statements of each Apple Valley Council member.