Letter to the Editor by David Fransen: Turlock’s Mismanagement of Tax Payer Dollars

As a citizen of Turlock and taxpayer, the new discovery of accounts holding $6 million in excessive reserves has made me lose all confidence in my local government’s management.
Besides the controversy surrounding City Staff’s public statements that Council had never been made aware of these accounts and that transferring of monies between different accounts had not gone before Council, I am concerned with the mismanagement of our tax dollars. I’m sure the City of Turlock Management and Staff will create an explanation soon enough.
This letter is addressing the handling, or lack of handling, of our tax dollars and not necessarily addressing the controversial allegations of hiding funds and transferring funds without Council’s knowledge.
The first fact that must be stated here is that the current recommended budgeting that found there to be over $6 million in excess was after making cautious budget projections recommended by the City Manager with finance staff’s input. I just want to point that out so everyone knows that everyone involved agrees the accounts were holding excessive amounts of unused tax payers’ money.
The approximate $6 million in excessively funded holding accounts was charged off to City Departments, in turn shorting the tax payers of their services while the money just sat investing in nothing.
As the citizens and business community of Turlock faces having services potentially cut such as the Development Services counter hours for builders, recreation programs for children, parks & street maintenance, public safety staffing levels, and even keeping the  street lights turned on, the City of Turlock has had and still does have over $6 million for such services.
At the very least, would a finance person know it’s not prudent to have over $6 million sitting in a “savings account” without questioning why it should just be sitting there?
Councilman Ted Howze did more than his public servant office pays him to do and did what City Management positions are paid over $100,000 – $200,000/year to do.
Did none of the Department Directors or Managers question the charge outs and the proposed 23% increased charge this year alone? NO! Department Directors and Managers just cut community services without advocating the services they are supposed to manage and provide as city management and finance staff stacked the money up.
I also witnessed twice in public meetings Turlock City Manager Roy Wasden wiggle around making excuses for whatever employee positions that would be responsible for the mismanagement of these department charge outs and accounts. City Manager Roy Wasden should at least order an administrative investigation. If the City Manager is not going to do be responsible and hold staff accountable, then the City Council needs to hold the City Manager accountable for this negligent mismanagement of tax payer dollars.
Some people think this is “extra” money now but in all reality this money should have been working to provide the community with services all along. It would not be prudent to use this one-time amount to cover anymore deficit than the planned $2.5 million from reserves this year or mitigate the needed concessions from labor bargaining groups. We have to think long-term and stop creating these false realities with the City’s common practice of “Creative Financing” as we see here.

Take the Poll on the bottom of the TurlockCityNews.com home page or comment if you have any opinion on what should be done with the $5 million put back in the General Fund Reserve.

David (DJ) Fransen

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