Monday, March 14, 2022

Auditor Controller's Report Didn't Make Supes' Agenda

Posted By on Mon, Mar 14, 2022 at 12:25 PM

Those waiting for a public vetting of the allegations of fiscal mismanagement Auditor-Controller Karen Paz Dominguez made at the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors’ March 1 meeting will have a bit more waiting to do.

After hearing Paz Dominguez report the “findings” of her ongoing review of the county’s finances, which included a laundry list of alleged irregularities and deficient fiscal controls, as well as a few straight allegations of impropriety, the board agendized a full report and discussion on the issue for March 15, asking Paz Dominguez to provide documentation and evidence. But county Administrative Officer Elishia Hayes tells the Journal that Paz Dominguez was “unable to complete her report” by the posting deadline for the March 15 meeting, so the matter will not be heard then.

Paz Dominguez tells the Journal that Clerk of the Board Kathy Hayes was “very helpful in scheduling a special meeting to hear [the] item on Monday, March 21, at 9 a.m.” But Paz Dominguez added that she “made a commitment to the public that I would provide them the relevant information on the 15th and I will keep that promise,” indicating she plans to release the report tomorrow, even though the matter will not be heard by the board.

Meanwhile, the state’s March 16 final deadline for Paz Dominguez to complete the county’s 2019-2020 financial transactions report looms, with the California Attorney General’s Office having threatened to fine the auditor-controller $5,000 if she fails to meet it. The report is already more than a year overdue — with its 2020-2021 counterpart now also late — despite the state having requested it multiple times.

Paz Dominguez previously told the Journal her office was looking at “a realignment” of staff tasks in order to meet the deadline, with the CAO’s Office having offered extra help to complete the task.

The embattled auditor-controller, who has been the subject of no-confidence votes from the board of supervisors, the county Workforce Development board and the Fortuna City Council, has alleged that loose fiscal controls throughout the county have created widespread opportunities for fraud, which, coupled with sometimes poor cooperation from other departments and a staffing shortage in her office, have prevented her from meeting the state-mandated deadlines. Other county department heads, however, have strongly disputed this and point to poor communication from the Auditor-Controller’s Office as a major problem, while expressing growing concern the delinquent fiscal reports will jeopardize state and federal funding streams.
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Thadeus Greenson

Thadeus Greenson is the news editor of the North Coast Journal.

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