Fortuna City Council on Monday asked city staff to write a letter to Humboldt County Auditor-Comptroller Karen Paz Dominguez expressing distrust in her office’s ability to do its job properly.
The move comes after Fortuna nearly lost $200,000 to $400,000 in funds due to a late property tax trust fund distribution report for the January 2021 to June 2022 redevelopment from the auditor’s office. -controller, although the issue is now resolved, according to City Manager Merritt Perry. The incident and others involving groups in Fortuna, such as the Fortuna Union High School District, contributed to the council’s decision to have staff write the letter.
Second District Supervisor Michelle Bushnell was present at the meeting to describe her frustrations with the auditor-controller over the reports involving Fortuna, and the work she did to try to submit the documents on time.
“My involvement with the city of Fortuna is that I have had to interfere with the vet hall and schools in Fortuna as well as the fire department multiple times,” Bushnell said. “I really believe that a lot of the problems stem from the lack of communication…communication seems to be difficult with this office.
According to Perry’s submissions to council, the office is chronically behind schedule, with two to three month delays, on property tax allocation and distribution payments, delaying the city’s ability to conduct annual audits. and limiting its ability to analyze property tax receipts. Perry also noted that the interest distribution and investment reports had not been received since 2020.
Perry said Fortuna Schools also had difficulty with the Humboldt County Auditor-Comptroller’s office, citing a report on the redevelopment agency’s transfer funds for fiscal years 2018-19 and 2019-20 that needed a fix.
“It is their feeling that this error resulted in a decrease in funding of $197,000 for the secondary school district and $213,000 for the elementary school district. They said the process to get the auditor-controller to submit the correction took nearly two years and required several outside consulting firms, and that interest has not been apportioned since the last quarter of 2020. missing interest support allocations are estimated to be approximately $76,000 for fiscal 2021,” Perry said.
Each member of the Fortuna City Council has echoed their own apprehensions to the Auditor-Comptroller’s Office, occasionally citing Fortuna residents who work for the county who have experienced late or incorrect paychecks.
The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors in November 2021 voted 3-2 not to trust the auditor-comptroller’s office, and the California attorney general’s office threatened legal action against the office for non-compliance. an overdue financial transaction report.
“The job (of Paz Dominguez) is to do it on time, but when you have the schools, the vet room and the fire department, it’s all part of our city, it all affects our citizens, every organization that does not receive their money on time, it’s part of Fortuna, it’s part of our vote. They are our citizens, they are our constituents and they also deserve to have their finances in order,” said Fortuna Mayor Sue Long.
Jackson Guilfoil can be reached at 707-441-0506.