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Sac City Council – Mid-year budget, pot shop ordinance and auditor’s report on city credit card use

(File photo) Police officers in the briefing room at the Richards Boulevard location.

The city council is expected to tackle a slew of hot items Tuesday night, including a marijuana dispensary ordinance, the mid-year budget adjustments and a report on city employees’ credit card purchases. 

The mid-year budget report – which makes recommendations on which city departments’ budgets should be cut or bolstered – does not include any more money for the police department, much to the ire of some Midtowners. 

Midtown resident George Raya said money from Measure U should be used now to help the police department, given the crime in the neighborhood.

“We passed Measure U to restore cuts made to law enforcement, to fire, parks and rec,” he said. “So why are we going to wait until the money comes through the pipeline next fiscal year? Why isn’t there money going toward it now?”

Raya said the police department hasn’t updated its monthly crime rate statistics online since September 2012, which doesn’t provide a picture of the crime rates. “If you don’t publicize it, it’s a lot easier to block any increase for the police budget,” he said.

District 4 Councilman Steve Hansen had another viewpoint, however. “My understanding after reviewing it, and trying to analyze it, is these are routine mid-year budget adjustments,” he said. “So they’re trying to clean up the budget.”

And the police department – which has been identified as a top priority for Measure U funding – will be get more funding to help it rebuild starting the next fiscal year (July 2013), he said.

“Those discussions will run separate from the mid-year budget discussions,” said Hansen, who will not be at Tuesday’s meeting. “Those conversations are already in progress about the budget and how to manage it – it’s going to be a very involved process.”

The $4.2 million would provide money for the city clerk, fire department, information technology, public works and citywide and community support. 

Other items on the council’s agenda include a public hearing on changing the city’s marijuana dispensary ordinance.

In essence, Councilman Darrell Fong hopes to change the location criteria for medical marijuana dispensaries – from the current requirement 600 feet distance from parks and schools, to a 1,000 feet distance. 

According to a city staff report, the four California-based U.S. attorneys have taken increased enforcement action against dispensaries located within 1,000 feet of schools. The Sacramento City Planning and Design Commission in October 2012 approved the recommendation, as did the Law and Legislation Committee, on Jan. 15. 

But the proposal has its opponents, including Sioux Colombe, who recently told the council that the city can’t author a law that goes against Proposition 215 – otherwise known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. 

Another item that’s sure to make the council’s ears perk is an audit on citywide credit card use. "Our audit objective was to assess the controls and processes associated with the city’s purchase card program to determine if the control system is adequate and if city purchase cards were being used appropriately," the report states. 

City Auditor Jorge Oseguera found several issues regarding the of the city’s "purchase-card" use, which is essentially the same as a company credit card.

Highlights from the report include:
• "While transactions reviewed did not reveal extensive personal purchases, some charges violated policy and lacked complete support."
• "The purchase card program lacked complete policy guidance and oversight."
• "The city’s credit limit exceeds $2 million per month and the city could reduce risk by limiting the number of cardholders and establishing more comprehensive controls. While the amount actually charged per month in fiscal year 2011/12 was on average about $117,000, allowing that much outstanding credit represents a risk."
• "Employees charged $1.4 million on purchase cards in fiscal year 2011/2012."
• "Cardholders charged the most to grocery stores and hotels."
• "As employees become aware of control weaknesses, such as allowable expenses being approved or unauthorized signers being accepted, employees predisposed to misusing the card may be more likely to attempt to process fraudulent, improper or abusive purchases."
• There are two instances of ammunition being purchased – one that totaled $783, while the other totaled $284 – by employees in two different departments. This type of purchase is not allowed.
• "Rules are derived from various sources and have not been clearly communicated."
• "The number of cardholders who received training is unknown, but appears limited."
• "About half of purchase cards received minimal use and it is unclear if keeping these cards is justified."
• "Restricting the types of purchases could limit unallowable use."  

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