Administrative & Municipal Affairs
The Administrative and Municipal Affairs Committee is responsible for investigating the policies and procedures relating to the administration and management of public agencies within Sacramento County. The committee reviews budgets, organizational charts, policies and procedures manuals, and any other pertinent information relevant to citizens' allegations against any agency or the five cities within Sacramento County.
To gain insight into the dynamics of local government and obtain relevant information to assist the Sacramento County Grand Jury with the discharge of its duties, the Grand Jury heard presentations from the following agencies:
· City Manager, City of Sacramento
On October 9, 1997, the Sacramento County Grand Jury met with the City Manager. The Grand Jury found that the City has reduced its departments from thirteen to seven and decreased its annual budget from $463 to $420 million. The four Deputy City Managers now supervise the following departments within the City's organizational structure: Neighborhoods, Planning and Development Services, Public Works, Utilities, Police and Fire, Administrative Services, the Arts Consortium, Special Projects, Citywide Financial Issues, and Hotel Development and the Downtown Department.
The City's budget summary presented to the Grand Jury showed that income to the City is structured in the following way:
· 48 percent of the income is fee-based, as some city programs fund their operations by charging user fees for the services they provide and are largely self-supporting. Examples of these services are golf courses, the marina, solid waste, and water and drainage.
County Assessor's Office
The Grand Jury met with the County Assessor on November 20, 1997, and toured the offices located at 700 H Street. The general responsibility of the Assessor's Office is to appraise and assess all real and personal property in Sacramento County. This includes taxing jurisdictions and special districts, with the exception of public utilities. Under California state law, real property is appraised only when:
· New construction occurs.
Property assessed includes mobile homes, modular homes, and manufactured housing. Business and personal property are appraised annually at the current market value and the tax rate is the same as that of real property at the same location. Boats and airplanes are taxable and appraised annually at their current market value.
Current information about property ownership and assessment in the County is available for public review. This data is indexed by owner, parcel number and address, and is available to the public at the county administration building. This information is also available at several branch libraries.
Department of Finance
On September 25, 1997, the Grand Jury met with the County's Director of Finance to understand the complexity of local government funding sources and limited amount of discretionary funds. The Director's position was established in 1996 when Sacramento County voters approved ballot Measure C. This measure amended the County Charter to consolidate the elected positions of Auditor-Controller with the appointed position of Treasurer. This Charter change established a Director of Finance with the combined responsibility of the two positions. The Director of Finance consolidated the functions of the Tax Collector and County Clerk-Recorder under the Director's span of control to form the Department of Finance.
The Department of Finance manages the County's treasury, provides for the collection and investment of funds, provides fiscal services, and independently reports financial information to the general public, county departments, and other governmental entities. Other functions include:
· Processes property tax collection and business licenses.
Entities under the auspices of the Director of Finance are: Auditor-Controller, County Clerk-Recorder, Tax Collection and Licensing, Treasurer and Administrative, and Management Information Systems. According to a report presented to the Grand Jury, the department staffing level is currently 180 permanent positions.
The Grand Jury met with the County's Chief Executive on August 28, 1997, for an overview of county operations, major accomplishments, and short- and long-term goals. The County Executive is appointed by the Board of Supervisors. There are five agencies comprised of numerous departments which report to the County Executive: Administration, Finance, Human Resources, Community Development and Neighborhood Assistance, and Public Works.
In 1993/94, there was a decrease in property tax revenue to the County from over $180 million to below $120 million. Other sources of income such as vehicle license fees and sales taxes remained stable. According to information given to the Grand Jury, the following shows the allocations from the 1997/98 county budget:
· 65 percent for law and justice.
The County targeted the following areas of future concern: funding local government, flood control, transportation, air quality, welfare reform, public safety, and solid waste management.
The following is a list of complaints received and investigated by the Administrative and Municipal Affairs Committee.
This complaint concerned a Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD) employee, who was also an elected official, and a SCUSD board member, who also held a full-time government job. These persons were alleged to have more than one government job and to have double billed for their time.
Finding & Recommendation
Finding: Based on the Grand Jury's investigation, it was determined that the two persons did perform two government functions. Their employment capacity allowed for flexible work schedules and there was no basis for charging employees with double billing. As part of the investigation, the Grand Jury did note that SCUSD does not have a policy which sets forth for its employees or board members activities which are inconsistent, incompatible, or in conflict with their duties.
Government Code section 1126(b) states that each appointing power may determine those outside activities which are inconsistent and in conflict with duties of their employees. The Grand Jury spoke with SCUSD's administration and the Fair Political Practices Commission on their policies regarding current conflict of interest and incompatible activity laws.
Recommendation: SCUSD's governing board should adopt a policy regarding incompatible activities and inform all employees and board members. Receipt of the policy should be acknowledged and a signed acknowledgment should be placed in all personnel files.
According to Sacramento County officials, all non-exempt Sacramento County vehicles, whether assigned to individuals or to motor pools, must have an Accident Report Form (RMO-11) and proof-of-insurance card in each vehicle. In addition, an emergency sticker (DGS-062) is placed on the dash or visor to advise county staff what to do in case of an accident. Exempt vehicles are unmarked cars or those used in undercover work. These vehicles are not required to carry this type of information.
As a result of a complaint, the Sacramento County Grand Jury conducted random inspections to ascertain if the appropriate emergency forms were in the county vehicles, per policy. The Grand Jury observed the County replacing outdated emergency stickers with new ones because county telephone numbers changed in January 1998. Few vehicles had proof-of-insurance cards and none of the inspected vehicles had an accident report form.
Findings & Recommendations
Finding: The Grand Jury was advised that as a result of the change in county telephone numbers all emergency stickers were in the process of being replaced. The inspection revealed that the new stickers contained incorrect information. The accident report form number was incorrect, instructing county staff to use an outdated form (DPM-11) instead of the correct form (RMO-11). The Grand Jury informed the County's Risk Management Office and the county garage, who were not aware the new stickers had incorrect information. Nonetheless, the Risk Management Office would accept the outdated accident report form.
Recommendation: Risk Management should update the emergency sticker to include the correct information.
Finding: It was learned that once the accident report form is used, there is no written procedure placing responsibility for form replacement. Some county staff thought it was the employees' responsibility, others thought it was the supervisors'. The absence of a clearly written procedure might explain why replacement forms were not placed into the vehicles. The Risk Management Office is responsible for distribution of the required forms; however, this office is not responsible to verify the placement of forms in vehicles. It was observed the forms were loosely kept in the glove compartment and are easily lost or used as note paper.
Recommendation: Sacramento County should develop an accident information packet that will protect forms and keep emergency information together. These packets should be placed in each glove compartment in every non-exempt county vehicle. The packet should contain the proof-of-insurance card and several copies of the Accident Report Form (RMO-11). It is further recommended that the County develop and implement a written policy regarding the replacement of emergency forms in county vehicles.
The Sacramento County Grand Jury investigated a complaint involving an administrative issue with the Technical Services and Contract Services Divisions of the County's Public Works Agency. Public Works is responsible for the maintenance and construction of municipal infrastructure and facilities including, but not limited to: roads, sewer, water, solid waste, storm water, recycling, garden refuse, and design and inspection of county buildings.
The complainant alleged a former county employee had a conflict of interest related to the terminal expansion at Sacramento International Airport. The alleged conflict resulted from this employee's assignment to the project and close association with the subcontracting firm working on the same project. In addition, the complainant alleged that county employees could perform the contracted out functions at a lower cost to the County.
The Grand Jury interviewed the complainant and key officials in all of the agencies cited above. Also reviewed were documents associated with the bidding process for the project, contract evaluation and award, annual filings of statement of economic interest (Form 700) to the Fair Political Practices Commission, employee handbook sections on outside employment and conflict of interest, and corporation filings.
Findings & Recommendations
Finding: Designated employees are required to file a conflict of interest form. The former county employee with the alleged conflict of interest disclosed in the Form 700 that he had an economic interest in the subcontracting firm. However, management performed no review of the information.
Before being assigned to the airport expansion project, the county employee voluntarily advised his supervisor that a family member had an economic interest in the subcontracting firm, but did not verbally mention his own economic interest in the firm. Despite the written disclosure and voluntary verbal disclosure of economic interest just prior to being assigned to the project, he was still assigned as a key negotiator in the final contract negotiation with the subcontracting firm.
Recommendation: The Public Works Agency should require any employee involved in contractual negotiation to sign a disclosure statement of any present or potential conflict of interest at the onset of the negotiation process. Management should review conflict of interest forms.
Finding: The contract language for the airport expansion project does not clearly state that certain provisions of the contract are also applicable to subcontractors, particularly as it relates to conflict of interest.
Recommendation: The Public Works Agency modify appropriate sections of contract language specifically to require that responsibilities of the prime contractors are also imposed on any subcontractor.
Finding: According to agency staff, contracting out aspects of the airport expansion project increased the total project cost.
Recommendation: The Public Works Agency should continue to evaluate projects on a case-by-case basis relative to issues associated with contracting out work versus the County's ability to competitively perform the work.
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