Last week we talked about how I believe District Attorney-elect Jason Anderson should investigate the credit card transactions and travel expenses of the Apple Valley Town Council. This is part two in the series.
Last week I said it was time for new San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson to investigate the Apple Valley Town Council and examine their credit card purchases and travel expenses. This is the first in a series of columns examining what I believe are criminal and/or unethical acts by members of the council.
It is official: The Apple Valley “Block of Five” Town Council not only accrued a $2.5 million budget shortfall, but it has also burned through our entire emergency reserve fund which was confirmed in an email exchange with Doug Robertson, our newly hired town manager tasked with cleaning up the Council’s mess.
A Hollywood movie franchise called “The Purge” takes place in a futuristic dystopian America. Each year during a 12-hour annual purge, all crime is legal, including murder.
But this horror movies isn’t as scary as real life here in San Bernardino County and our Town of Apple Valley where it seems we operate under a 24/7/365 purge of sorts thanks to our do-nothing county sheriff, county supervisor, and Town Council.
Updated numbers show that seven town employees were paid more than $200,000 in salaries and benefits in 2017. This includes the town manager and his three assistants.
Each member of the Apple Valley Town Council receives a $570 per month vehicle allowance as part of their $30,000 a year salary and benefits package that includes health insurance. I wanted to focus a bit more attention on this vehicle allowance and drill down a bit so that the readers can see what kind of tricks are being played on them.
The Town Council of Apple Valley should do a much better job of managing the town’s business and financial affairs. On paper, we have a majority of what appear to be well qualified (members), however their performance is far from what one would expect from such qualified individuals. As an example: We have a Town Council consisting of three successful business men, one socialist, and one gadfly.
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!