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McCarty, Johnson urge utilities audit

Sacramento City Councilman Kevin McCarty and Mayor Kevin Johnson both said Tuesday that the city’s Utilities Department should be audited. While the Utilities Department is not currently on City Auditor Jorge Oseguera’s audit schedule, it appears there is growing interest in the idea. 

McCarty said at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting that he wanted to explore how the city could start an audit of the Utilities Department.

Oseguera said he is now working on audits of the city’s health benefits program and the city’s vehicle fleet management division.

“I think that (the Utilities Department) warrants getting on the list, (and) maybe even jumping in front of the other ones,” McCarty said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Johnson discussed the department at his weekly press conference. 

“I’ve been calling for an audit of every department for at least 20 months,” Johnson said, responding to a reporter’s question if he will seek a Utilities Department audit.

He mentioned his concerns about the department while talking to reporters about Measure B, which would end a utilities rate increase and change the department’s management system for utilities rates.

“I don’t think we still, as a city, have gotten to the bottom of what’s wrong with the Utilities Department,” Johnson said.

Johnson has not yet taken a position on Measure B, while McCarty is leading a campaign to oppose it.  

Supporters of Measure B say the city’s utilities rates are too costly, while opponents have said they fear the measure would harm city utility services and cause layoffs.

A heated issue involving the Utilities Department is a Jan. 6 Sacramento County Grand Jury report that claimed the department broke state law Proposition 218. Utilities fees paid by residents can only fund utilities services, according to the law. But the Grand Jury claimed that other programs at City Hall may have used the money.

Oseguera explained Wednesday that his audit schedule for the current fiscal year was signed off by the City Council and does not include a Utilities Department audit. 

Oseguera noted that he will discuss options relating to a Utilities Department audit with the audit committee and the City Council. 

However, Oseguera also pointed out that his office is currently understaffed. Two of his three staffers resigned in recent months. One of the former staffers, Gerald Silva, resigned in July after The Sacramento Press asked him questions about sexual harassment accusations in his previous job for the city of San Jose. 

Oseguera said he has filled one of two open positions, and a new employee will join his office Nov. 8.

Photo by Brandon Darnell.

Kathleen Haley is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. 

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