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Quirk-Silva Calls for Accountability on Fullerton Water Rates

This announcement came in early this morning from the desk of Fullerton Mayor and Ad-65 candidate Sharon Quirk-Silva:

Fullerton Mayor Sharon Quirk-Silva Calls For Transparency and Accountability in Water Rates Fullerton, California, March 19, 2012 — City of Fullerton Mayor Sharon Quirk-Silva is asking members of the Adhoc Committee on Water Rates to consider several factors leading to greater transparency and accountability when they meet at 6:00 pm on Monday, March 19, 2012.

Mayor Quirk-Silva spearheaded the formation of the Adhoc Committee on Water Rates in 2011 and her observations come after reviewing a city commissioned study about water fund transfers to the Cityʼs general fund conducted by Municipal & Finance Services Group (“MFSG”) that was released on Thursday, March 15, 2012.

“I feel that it is important that despite the anticipation of an audit of water fund transfers to the general fund, the report by Municipal & Finances Services Group is not an audit, but a study of data provided by the City. A formal audit requires a Certified Public Accountant and it is important that the Adhoc Committee members and public understand that this study does not meet the rigors of a formal audit,” Mayor Quirk-Silva stated. “Furthermore, I am concerned that a separate but related appraisal report by Stephen G. White, appraised the value and rent covering city facilities dedicated to the service and delivery of water based upon market rates for residential property at the request of city staff. Such appraisals for facilities dedicated to water utilities are typically appraised for their ‘utility value’ which can be substantially lower. As presented this appraisal leads to justifying larger transfers from the water fund to the general fund than may be warranted, ” Mayor Quirk-Silva added.

“Finally, enterprise funds such as our water fund are typically governed by a fund board. Such boards review detailed financial statements related to the water utility. The MFSG study makes no reference to this which I see as a significant short-coming in the area of transparency and accountability. Thus, before taking any further steps, I urge the Adhoc Committee to advise the city council about steps that ought to be taken to increase transparency and accountability so that transfers from the water fund to the general fund are technically, legally and ethically done. I will also call upon members of the city council to join me in a motion to stop any further diversions of water revenues to the general fund until these questions are answered,” Mayor Quirk-Silva asserted.

“While this process leading to greater transparency and accountability has been difficult, I am glad that the city council supported my effort last year to create the Adhoc Committee on Water Rates. I wish to thank members of the Adhoc Committee as this process potentially continues to an acceptable solution that is fair to our residents and rate payers, while improving our aging water system,” Mayor Quirk-Silva said.

Sharon Quirk-Silva (Photo: Chris Prevatt)