BY PATTY LAMONTO
The proponents of Measure J urge the taxpayers to vote on a bond measure based upon good faith and economic timing. Board member Kevin Murphy and some proponents have said that the Truckee Donner Recreation and Parks District “is committing $7 million in savings banked from the strong financial management of the TDRPD Community Center project.”
Where did the $7.2 million of funds come from? In 2007 the TDRPD issued certificates of participation (loosely referred to as a bond) in the amount of $25 million dollars payable for 30 years fixed at 4.8 percent interest payable at $1.5 million interest and principal annually. The funds are for Phase I and Phase II of the community center. Phase I was built, the residual funds of $7.2 million have been and are being held in a restricted capital projects account for Phase II since that time. The $7.2 million is borrowed money from certificates of participation proceeds and not the result of good management. It costs the taxpayer about $450,000 annually for interest and principal.
As for good management, the 2011 independent audit by a certified public accounting firm disclosed the district had $462,622 less cash and investments on hand than from 2010. “This is largely the result of reduced revenues which are not adequate to fund operating expenditures and debt payments.” The important point here is that the district is operating in the red due to operating expenses and debt payments.
Furthermore, the 2010 independent audit contains eight pages of appendices, A & B, which describe in detail the “material weaknesses” and “significant deficiencies” in internal control over financial reporting. Accounting errors and lack of senior management policies and procedures including a lack of such routine procedures as a purchase order system were among the reasons discussed. The report noted: “The capital outlay accounts contained millions of dollars in errors, including multi-million dollar negative balances.” The auditor went so far to state that “…capital outlay balances in the financial statements were erroneous by millions of dollars. Initial expenditures were scattered into multiple expense accounts … The accounting staff did not understand the cost of the new facility.”
It is not the mission of the TDRPD to expand the economic base of Truckee. The district needs time to get its house and finances in order before embarking on additional capital projects.
While we are all hurting from the national economic downturn, promises of wonderful economic benefits are just not likely or deliverable. Hired consultants tend to satisfy the customer and all too often projects result in either unmet expectations or significantly adverse consequences of spending too much of the public’s money.
Please join me in demanding more accountability and transparency in our government and VOTE NO on Measure J.