|(Aug. 28, 2018, 9:58 a.m.) -- City Auditor Laura Doud just released a "performance audit" (at this link) -- her term (page 20) for the audit she just completed without a $45,000 Charter Amendment election change) -- regarding LB Animal Care Services. Among other things, her "performance audit" identified a lack of adequate staffing at LB's Animal Shelter.
But for some reason, LB's nominally independent Auditor didn't identify the parties responsible for the budgeted lack of staffing: it's the Mayor (who annually forwards management-prepared budgets with his recommendations to the City Council) and City Council (whose members who can tweak/change/amend what management and the Mayor propose.
And yes, the Mayor/Manager proposed FY19 budget just happens to be coming to a Council vote on Sept. 4.
Ms. Doud falls back on the verbally flinched formula she offered in her "phase one" (Dec. 2017) audit:
"City stakeholders must determine what kind of shelter it [sic] wants..." No. Unnamed "stakeholders" aren't at fault. For several years, LB's electeds have shrugged taxpayer stakeholders that include No-Kill Long Beach (formerly Stayin' Alive Long Beach.) And others who were less confrontational in last year's budget cycle wound up with only incremental results.
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If every recommendation in the Auditor's phase two "performance audit" were implemented tomorrow, it would (her numbers) produce $70,000 (from contract cities) + about $100,000 annually (about $1 million allowed to pile up since FY09 in uncollected animal-related citations) + $262,000 (if ACS increased pet license compliance to 29%) + $7,100 for unprocessed pet license payments. That's $439,100, a tidy sum, nicely identified.
But the Auditor (to her credit) acknowledges that the Animal Shelter needs 8 more full time (or 12 part time) Animal Care Attendants plus an additional 4.1 full time Animal Control Officers. So...where is that figure? For some reason, the Auditor doesn't cite a figure (odd behavior for an Auditor) and instead recites excuse:
"Due to current Citywide budget constraints, it is unlikely that ACS will be able to hire the additional staff to fill the shortages highlighed in this report." Huh? City management and the Mayor just rolled out a proposed FY19 that includes a continuing $50+ million annual cash infusion from the 2016 Measure A sales tax hike AND oil revenue now projected at $10 a barrel higher than last year.
Yes, management projects a possible deficit in FY20 (some of it thanks to generous Council-approved raises for city employee unions and six figure club management staff on which Ms. Doud has remained publicly silent.) It's hard to fault an audit that identifies issues and offers sensible suggestions, but LB taxpayers didn't elect an Auditor who offers politicians verbal cover when their budget choices created many of the problems she now acknowledges. Auditors don't make budget choices; the Mayor and Council do.
The Auditor favorably cites a "task force" defensively created by Mayor Garcia even though it excludes the voices of politically pesky no-kill advocates. That's disturbing because those critical voices deserve credit, not exclusion, for having raised issues that the Auditor's audit now appears to corroborate.
Our recommendation is that the policy-setting City Council (especially those who aspire to higher office) treat the voices of no-kill advocates with greater respect and inclusion.
On a broader level, we're concerned about other actions by the incumbent Auditor, whose office logo pledges: "Independence you can rely on." Ms. Doud just received another four years in office without a ballot opponent. We think it would promote independence if that changes next time.
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