Monday, May 7, 2012

Working to Oversee Sound Budget Practices

A good Councilmember should strive to oversee routine financial matters to ensure the integrity of all financial records subject to City Council review, and not just when things look suspicious. 

To that end, yesterday I asked to review the private auditor report for the Downtown San Mateo Association (DSMA) in advance of approval of the annual assessment for the Downtown Business Improvement Area (DBIA).

Since 1986, the DSMA has been the administrator for the DBIA, which assesses a yearly fee to businesses in the Downtown San Mateo area.  The fees are used to funds event, marketing efforts, and physical improvements meant to enhance and promote our Downtown district.  Annual assessment fees can range from $65 to $1300 depending on the size of the business. 

While the DSMA has an independent Board of Directors that administers the DBIA, state law provides the City Council with oversight authority for the assessment fees.

In reviewing the request for assessments to be renewed for the coming fiscal year, I noticed that a review of the independent audit for the DSMA (which is required at least once every two years) has not been completed in over three years.

Therefore, I have asked City staff to obtain the most recent independent audit of how the DSMA is using the assessment fees from local businesses.  A thorough review of that audit will be conducted by me and other members of the Council before a final decision is made on approving the annual assessment for the DBIA this year.

As the old saying goes, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."  Reviewing financial audits for a group that has performed well over the years may not be the most exciting thing to do, but as your Councilmember it is something I am committed to doing to maintain the public trust. 

To view the staff report on the DBIA assessment due to be discussed tonight, click HERE

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