City’s books are ‘clean’
Finance director vindicated by audit report
The Tuesday (Jan. 15) meeting of the Chico City Council brought vindication of sorts for Jennifer Hennessy, the city’s finance director.
Readers will remember that early in 2012, as the race for City Council was starting to heat up, Hennessy took a lot of flak for what some candidates charged were lapses in her reporting and handling of city finances.
This week the council heard another story, this time from Ingrid Sheipline, of the Sacramento auditing firm Richardson & Co. Sheipline was there to report on the results of her firm’s audit of the city’s 2011-12 financial reports, and she had nothing but good things to say.
As it has for several years now, the Finance Department received an “unqualified,” or clean, opinion regarding the books, which “is good as you can get,” Sheipline told the council.
No audit adjustments were needed, she added, which is a rare occurrence and attests to the capability of the Finance Department.
Frank Fields, the city’s accounting manager, told the council 2011-12 was the most challenging year in his 18 years with the city, thanks primarily to the monkey wrench thrown into the works by the dissolution of the city’s redevelopment agency and its transformation into a successor agency. There were many “extraordinary items” in the budget, he said. “The most important thing is that we have a clean opinion,” he concluded.
Eager to serve: After a fitful start that required the deadline to be extended twice, the city “was inundated with applicants,” as City Clerk Deborah Presson put it, seeking to serve on its various commissions and one board. Altogether there were 60 of them, and Tuesday about 40 of them attended the council meeting to give two-minute pitches on why they should be selected.
They are an impressive bunch, many of them highly qualified, though perhaps not as diverse as the larger community. Only four are from minority groups—one African-American, one Latino, one Southeast Asian and one Indian, Dr. Brahama D. Sharma, who wants to serve on the Airport Commission.
There was wide diversity of age, though many of the applicants were retired. One high school senior, Anna Wannenmacher, said she wanted to be the voice of young people on the Bidwell Park and Playground Commission (BPPC). Applicants were evenly divided between men and women.
Four former elected officials applied, two mayors (Mardi Worley and Karl Ory) and two former council members (Kimberly Rudisill and Tom Nickell). Worley and Rudisill want to be on the Planning Commission, Ory on the Airport Commission, and Nickell on the Bidwell Park and Playground Commission.
The best odds are for the Architectural Review and Historic Preservation Board, to which only five people applied for four open seats. The worst odds were for the BPPC, which had 16 applicants for three seats. Close behind was the Planning Commission, with 15 applicants for three seats.
Thirteen people want to serve on the Airport Commission, which has four openings, and 11 applied for the Arts Commission, which has four openings.
Of the 18 openings, 14 were for four-year terms and four for two years.
Council members will nominate their favorites and then collectively vote on them at a special goals-setting meeting set for Jan. 24 beginning at 6 p.m.
How to get your refund: An ordinance to change the Municipal Code to make it possible for people to get refunds from the city for taxes paid on cellular phones was on the consent agenda and would have been passed without discussion had not a citizen, Rick Clements, asked to address the council.
Clements wanted to know what actual process the city had set up to disburse the refunds. Not much of one, it turned out, but city officials agreed to get moving on it and place ads in the local newspapers explaining the process.
Refund petitioners will need to document their tax payments, going back 12 months.