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City rejects audit commissioner's request for financial reports

Additional financial reports beyond the scope of commission's authority.

March 21, 2011|By Melanie Hicken, melanie.hicken@latimes.com

CITY HALL — City officials on Monday rejected a city audit commissioner’s request for monthly city financial reports, contending the move would go beyond the scope of his duties.

Zareh Amirian — a member of the five-person Glendale Audit Committee, which is tasked with overseeing City Hall's internal audit activities — had requested the ability to see monthly financial reports from city departments and service funds. But that would go beyond the legal authority of the commission, city attorneys said.

“It would be inappropriate to expand that now without the approval of the City Council,” City Atty. Scott Howard said Monday.

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Amirian, who successfully pushed for the committee to meet more frequently since his 2009 appointment, said the reports could help commissioners increase transparency and keep a closer eye on the city’s books amid multi-million budget deficits.

“Generally speaking, I believe one of our missions is to provide a look into the city’s finances and the way the city operates its business to the public,” Amirian said.

City officials also contended that generating the reports, at several hundred pages, would add additional burdens on staff resources.

“It’s not like we press a button and these monthly reports are already coming out,” said Assistant City Manager Yasmin Beers, adding that software used for the reports is “an optional tool for the departments to utilize to manage their budgets.”

Some Audit Committee members agreed that the value of the reports might not outweigh the added staff time.

“What is the relative benefit of that extra time and effort?” said committee member Mia Lee. “I personally don’t know if that’s worth it.”

While Amirian said he valued the input from his fellow committee members, he might purse the reports through a public records request.

“The big question here is performance,” he said after Monday’s meeting. “There has to be some level of auditing done on whether the performance that we’re getting — the outcomes that we’re getting from city departments — equal the budget that’s being put into them.”

Given the city attorney’s finding, he added that the City Council may want to take up possibly expanding the Audit Committee’s duties.

“Maybe the question should be asked, then, ‘Do the audit committee’s powers need to be expanded in light of the situation that we have seen as a public in other cities and the continuously rising deficits in terms of our own city,” he said.
 
 

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