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Second Trustee Says Vector Board Tax Increase Not Justified.
Desert Local News ^ | June 8, 2007 | DLN

Posted on 06/09/2007 11:07:38 PM PDT by BJungNan

Second Trustee Says Vector Board Tax Increase Not Justified. Team DLN 08.JUN.07

Thursday, June 07, 2007 Palm Springs trustee to the Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control Board, Sharon Lock, says a tax increase set to be voted on by Vector Board trustees this coming Tuesday is not needed.

She is the second trustee of that agency to come out against the tax increase.

“I voted no against the budget. I thought it was an inflated budget. That budget is what they based the tax increase on,” said Lock. “I feel that a vote in favor (of the tax increase) would be sanctioning the numbers.”

Lock, a retired division accounting manger at Monsanto Corporation, said she sent a letter to Palm Springs City Manager David H. Ready to advise him of her position and to recommend the city look into the Vector Board finances.

“I have a note from the City Manger that says Palm Springs will look into it,” said Lock.

If Palm Springs formally opposes the tax increase, it would be the second city to do so.

Desert Hot Springs city council adopted a resolution formally opposing the tax increase Tuesday. That action came at the urging of its appointed trustee, Karl Baker, and after a review of Vector Board finances by its city attorney.

Concerns over Vector Board finances center in part over the agency's cash reserves.

“There is a $12 million surplus,” said Lock. “Some of it is in reserves. The actual number is $7 million in unallocated cash. We have a lot of cash,” she said.

Other issues raised include charges by Baker of high administrative costs and excessive travel by trustee management.

Desert Local News reviewed travel expenses using minutes of the Vector Board agency and reports supplied to trustees.

Click here for partial travel authorization report.

Over a 10-month period between September, 2006 and June of 2007, managers and trustees were authorized to travel to 17 conferences and meetings throughout the U.S. at a cost of $71,000.

Among the trips was a California Special Districts Conference in Lake Tahoe, CA last September attended by the general manager and unspecified trustees at a cost of $7,000.

Also included was a trip by the G.M. and two vector control staffers to a Vector Ecology Society meeting in Anchorage, Alaska at a cost of $7,000.

“The board approved those trips,” confirmed Lock. “We need to do a better job of looking at what’s being included in the spending. That includes me,” she said. “The new trustees on the board need to take a closer look.”

Taking that closer look, says Baker, is what got him into a conflict with the agency. The agency is seeking to remove Baker as a trustee.

In a letter sent to the city of Desert Hot Springs, the agency alleges Baker is harassing vector board employees and that he has been disruptive in the once-a-month meetings of the agency. It did not elaborate on the charges of harassment. To support its charge that Baker has been disruptive, it supplied tapes of trustee meetings to Desert Hot Springs’ city attorney.

Lock said she has not seen anything at the meetings to suggest Baker has conducted himself improperly.

“I did not notice that much going on in the meetings. It has not been a wild ride. It has not been argumentative,” Lock said.

A review of agency minutes by Desert Local News shows a split in voting between Baker and a majority on the board, with Baker raising objections. But Baker has been joined in those objections by Lock and former trustee, Paul Marchand, now a Cathedral City Councilman.

At a November 2006 meeting, Baker joined Marchand in requesting supporting documentation before voting.

Quoting those minutes, “Trustee Marchand requested documentation supporting the legal fees for (Vector Board attorney) Lisa Copeland, and would like to see the bills before authorizing payment. Trustee Baker and Trustee Marchand requested documentation for the legal fees from Luce, Forward, Hamilton, & Scripps. A discussion ensued.”

By roll call vote, the motion to approve the payments without the supporting documentation was passed with seven trustees voting in favor and three trustees (Baker, Lock, and Marchand) opposed.

“We wanted to see more detailed backup in our monthly packets; what was billable hours and what were they for,” said Lock. She said trustees were told they could see the backup detail separately if they wanted.

Desert Local News has tried repeatedly to reach officials at the Vector Control Board, and has left several messages for pubic information officer Robert Mann over a two-week period. Our calls have not been returned.

The vote on the tax increase at the board is scheduled to take place this Tuesday, June 12, 2007 in a meeting to be held at 43-420 Trader Place, Indio starting at 6 p.m.

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Front Page News; News/Current Events; US: California
KEYWORDS: govermentcorruption

1 posted on 06/09/2007 11:07:40 PM PDT by BJungNan
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To: BJungNan

By the time I found this story, it was a very stale post, having been posted nearly 12 hours earlier. But, surprisingly, there hasn’t been a single reply. The government bleeds its’ citizens at all levels. The issues prevalent in the mosquito abatement district are typical of almost every small tax based district. Board members and staff attending meetings in Lake Tahoe and Anchorage, AK are a joke, but the joke is on the taxpayers. Good for the board members that want to see where the money’s going. Everyone should look at the spending of their own local tax based districts. You won’t believe where the money’s going.

2 posted on 06/10/2007 8:44:34 AM PDT by RLM
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I can't believe that there isn't a "Free Republic" sort of board for local taxation districts across the country.

This is where the taxpayers could start the Second Revolution - by throttling the taxman close to home, you could learn to build it up to state level taxation, then on to national level taxation.

3 posted on 06/10/2007 11:39:14 AM PDT by an amused spectator (AGW: If you drag a hundred dollar bill through a research lab, you never know what you'll find)
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