Friday, December 1, 2023

Board of Supervisors Discuss Timely Financial Reporting Practices Claims To Address Budgetary Fuss

[All images from the Mendocino County YouTube Channel]

After a controversial declaration of financial crisis six weeks ago, the Board of Supervisors spent the morning session at Tuesday’s meeting discussing timeframes for financial reporting requirements with Chamise Cubbison, the new Auditor-Controller Treasurer-Tax Collector.

Last month, Supervisor Ted Williams complained that he has not seen a credible financial report in the entire three and a half years he’s been in office. The Board voted then to ask the State Controller’s office for help with its books. Yesterday, Williams reported on the upshot of that meeting.

“We did meet with the State Controller…to get feedback on whose responsibility it is,” he said. “And what I heard is that this is a local problem and the Board needs to take responsibility and officially make requests of the auditor…we did meet with the Auditor-Controller Treasurer-Tax Collector, and we conveyed that if some of these items are beyond her capabilities, or she believes it’s beyond the scope of her office, the Board could hire consultants, could staff up in other parts of the county. The bottom line for the ad hoc is, this is what we need to do our job. We’re not concerned about who performs the duty of generating the reports. We’re just concerned that we have reports.”

Supervisors presented Cubbison with a detailed list of items they want regular reports on. But Cubbison said she doesn’t have time to compose what she called a “dissertation” on what her office does. And she said she’s not the only one who can provide the Board with financial information. 

“The CEO’s office has always, always been able to generate reports,” she declared. “At no point in time have they ever been dependent on the auditor’s office to produce the reports. And the history has been that the analysts’ positions are in the CEO’s office. The budget has never been built by the Board to put the positions in the auditor’s office to respond to those requests.”

Seven minutes into her opening remarks, Cubbison was showing signs of what may have been irritation.

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“I have been the Auditor-Controller Treasurer-Tax Collector for sixty days,” she informed the Board. “Sixty days, which started six months sooner than anticipated. With only two weeks’ notice. And right off the bat, you put forth your demands and appear to be doing your best to break my will. And yes, you seem to not understand the financial statements, and not understand the budget, and not understand the finances, and I feel like there’s a lot of pointing and blaming, whereas other people, other staff people who should know stuff, are acting like they have no idea.” 

Cubbison said that prior to the meeting, she had only gotten a quick glimpse of the items the Board planned to address, and that she wasn’t prepared with detailed information. She said the state was strict about deadlines for reporting covid money, and she doesn’t know if the county will be subject to fines for turning in its reports about a month late.

She said much of the material she uses to generate reports comes from county department heads, not all of whom have provided her the information she needs in a timely manner. And she said the loss of her predecessor, Lloyd Weer, is hitting her hard. She explained that there have been significant delays in the last year. “In an ideal year, where we didn’t have a disaster, and everybody was fully staffed, and things were going well, and there wasn’t turnover, and there wasn’t loss of institutional knowledge, we would be lucky to close the books by the first week of September.” This year, she said, she can’t tell the Board how much longer it will take. “There’s still information that needs to come in…There’s still entries that, frankly, I don’t know how to make. That, really, I need Lloyd.”

Supervisor Maureen Mulheren suggested that having desk manuals for every position in the county might mitigate the loss of institutional knowledge. “So if somebody wins the lottery and moves to Arruba, the next person picks up a binder, and knows what to do,” she explained.

Funding and staffing for the office were sticking points, but Cubbison said the market is not promising for high-level accounting positions.

The Board attempted to resolve the difficulties by codifying organizational procedures. They addressed one item on the list by agreeing to transfer payroll duties to the fiscal division in the executive office. CEO Darcie Antle said that due to a recent vulnerability, her office had hired outside consultants to help process the most recent payroll. Antle thinks she can create a workable system in the next six to eight weeks. The Board also directed Antle to instruct department heads to keep their financial information up to date. And she is charged with making sure entities that bill the county submit their invoices on time. The two supervisors on the budget ad hoc committee, Williams and Glenn McGourty, agreed to look into how other counties make timely financial reports, to see if there is an appropriate model for Mendocino County.

During public comment, Kiki DeLong, Chief Deputy Auditor-Controller, emphasized the needs for more staff, and for county department heads to close their books on time. And she asked for one more thing.

“You need to start actually supporting our Auditor-Controller Treasurer-Tax Collector by your actions, as words not backed up by actions can only be deemed false,” she declared.

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  1. “…the state was strict about deadlines for reporting covid money, and she doesn’t know if the county will be subject to fines for turning in its reports about a month late.”

    the price paid for greed in stealing money from US tax payers.
    i suspect these matters will get much worse.
    maybe, just maybe, bow tie Ted et al should have refused the money from f-troop and and and NOT shut down the entire county hence putting folks out of business and much worse.
    now, we as a county, have a ball and chain shackled to the ankle.

    Placer county had a set of nuggets and remained open in spite of the young global leader groomed guvna hairdoo’s demands. i suspect they were punished for that in not receiving said funds.

    time for a cleansing of the mendo BOS.

  2. Desk manuals are only good if they are appreciated and honored by those coming in the door behind you. Most senior county employees who have gone through the time consuming process of assembling desk manuals, both hard copy and electronic, find that the younger employees coming in behind them do not honor the years of advice to be found in those manuals. They are tossed out and ignored right off the bat. Weak leadership does nothing to enforce honoring the knowledge so carefully constructed and left behind. That is the infinite problem with Government, no continuity, no time honored policies and procedures to go by. New leaders, new employees bring their own agendas to the table and almost always are reinventing the wheel. That’s why we never see progress, that’s why we see the same old issues over and over and over and over again. Leave your agenda’s at the door when you come in to work. Honor what and who came before you. Only then will progress be made and waste ended. After all, we are all just dust in the wind. Use your time well and hope that someone honors your work when you are done. And hopefully then and only then can we move positively forward out of the broken record syndrome!

  3. Again, I don’t believe asking for better understanding equates with finding fault by anyone. Asking the state for assistance should be regarded as a supportive stance by supervisors; asking staff puts further demand on the same.

    What is the vulnerability to which Darcie Antle refers?

    Regardless of where reports are generated, what ‘detailed list of items’ do Supervisors want regular reports on?

  4. According to most reports, the County appears to be in a perpetual state of financial confusion. The public has been hearing a lot of circular intramural finger-pointing for years. Where the money comes from and where it goes would seem to be fundamentally important information. Nothing in this story makes any real progress towards that end.

  5. Let me help all you out. This is not about reports and getting financial data. This is Bowtie Ted’s way to try and publicly shame Ms. Cubbison. He must make her look like a failure to get voters to allow the BOS to create a Director of Finance position which the BOS will hire and fire. In other words, CONTROL!!!!!!!!! Why is Ms. Antle so quiet? The BOS can fire her, it’s that simple. Ms. Cubbison is an elected official, the same as Bowtie Ted. If I was Ms. Cubbison I would tell these idiots to pound sand. They are not her boss, we are THE VOTERS!!!!!! Now let’s talk about the CEO Office, they are the ones who should be getting the data to the BOS and Ms. Antle sits quiet, she knows this. Why? She was Carmel right hand, her main job was Budget. Not a word, something is going on here with this office that they don’t want us to know.

    Here is the other thing, 20 years ago the County combined Clerk/Recorder and Assessor’s Office. How did that work? Failed!!!!!! Has anyone got a supplemental bill for a house you bought 2 years ago, yes they are 2 years behind on recording what you paid for that house and they adjust it and you get a huge bill. Not one Supervisor knows this, that is money the County is delaying collecting. If you ask Bowtie Ted this office runs smoothly. The reason, the elected official kisses Bowtie’s butt. there’s some of your County politics. You see this all started because BOS does not like Ms. Cubbison and did not want her in this position because she hold them accountable on spending.

  6. One thing I forgot to mention was Bow tie Ted says he hasn’t been able to get financial data for 3 and a half years. Does this mean he has approved budgets or other financial issues with no data. Should he have not brought this up before now, or is there a motive here as I discussed in prior posts.

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Sarah Reith
Sarah Reith
Sarah Reith is a radio and print reporter working in Mendocino and Humboldt counties, focusing on local politics and environmental news.

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