Montebello Audit Highlights Need for Oversight and Transparency in Local Government

September 26, 2011

Lara urges Governor to sign AB 187 and AB 1350 to prevent further abuse of public funds

BELL GARDENS – The State Controller’s findings of questionable spending by the City of Montebello highlight, once again, the need for greater transparency and oversight in local government. The audit also raises critical questions about the role of state government in protecting public funds and preventing abuse.

“It is unconscionable for city officials to mismanage taxpayer funds and abuse the public’s trust. Last year, we witnessed the devastation caused by a handful of corrupt politicians in the community of Bell. As state representatives, we should not let that happen again. I am urging the Governor to sign two of my bills, AB 187 and AB 1350, which will prevent and correct the misuse of public funds. The measures will allow us to keep a watchful eye and delve into our local governments books when necessary.”

In the past year, Assembly Member Lara worked with residents from the City of Bell to restore funds that were illegally charged to cover inflated salaries and mismanagement of funds and, as Chair of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, convened hearings which examined issues of transparency and oversight in local government. Additionally, Assembly Member Lara has authored legislation, AB 187 and AB 1350, to ensure greater accountability of local government.

AB 187 will allow the State Auditor to examine local governments during the course of her high-risk audit program to determine if there are any areas that are at risk of fraud, waste or mismanagement.

AB 1350 ensures taxpayers are protected from arbitrary and illegal property tax rates by requiring county auditors to verify that a property tax rate proposed by a city to fund pension obligations does not exceed the maximum rate authorized by law. Additionally, AB 1350 authorizes county auditors to reject a proposed property tax increase if it exceeds the maximum rate allowed under the law.

Both measures are on the Governor’s desk and await his action.