Senator Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado Hills) confirmed on Thursday that his request to audit the City of Lincoln has been approved by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee. The California State Auditor will conduct the audit, and the auditors will specifically review of the "administration of public funds and assets by the city" over the past five years.
"The legislature plays an important role in ensuring that our local governments are transparent and trustworthy administrators of taxpayer dollars,” said Gaines. "Information has come to light showing a potential pattern of mismanagement among some at the upper levels of City government in Lincoln."
Gaines referred to complaints from Lincoln residents about excessive water bills which were ultimately found to be accurate. The residents, he said, claimed the extra charges amounted to approximately seven million dollars.
Gaines added that it is his belief that by conducting this audit, important questions can be answered, but officials with the City of Lincoln countered by claiming they believe nothing wrong will be found in the audit.
Jennifer Hanson with the City of Lincoln admitted that staff and council made a mistake with the municipal water rate structure. However, she said that city officials had reached a settlement on that issue.
Hanson also claimed that city officials reached out to Gaines after the audit was made known to them, but she said he declined to talk with them and did not acknowledge their response on the city website. Gaines told News Radio KFBK that he had received conflicting information from those with the City of Lincoln with whom he spoke. Some, he said, denied any problems with the way that city does business, while one or more council members said they agreed something is not right.
Gaines said he was told the California State Auditor's Office that the audit process will take several months to complete.