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Finance director says Brawley did, in fact, reimburse LTA funds

April 28, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

BRAWLEY — This city doesn't owe $320,000 to the Local Transportation Authority, and the city's finance director said closer scrutiny of a 1999-2000 audit would have picked up that fact.

An audit of the LTA — a transportation agency whose membership includes the cities and county of Imperial — showed Brawley owing the money, with interest.

Fred Selk, Brawley finance director, said the LTA funds were properly used to resurface and reconstruct C Street, and that although LTA funds were used to do the work, the city used other grant money to reimburse the LTA funds.

He added the transaction was entered and reversed in the accounting records on the same day.

"So we've already repaid the LTA money," Selk said, adding the city was not required to repay the money, as the C Street work was a project eligible for funding under the LTA.

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"Rather than charging it to LTA money, we chose to pay it back," Selk said.

City officials were surprised by the audit finding when El Centro-based certified public accountant George Woo told the LTA regional council Wednesday evening that Brawley owed the money, though he did not elaborate.

Woo was not available for comment Friday afternoon.

Brawley City Councilwoman Jo Shields, who attended the regional council meeting, declined to comment at the time because the audit was sprung on those at the meeting.

Selk said the issue goes back to the origin of the LTA, which came into being with the countywide passage of Measure D, which increased sales taxes by one-half percent for roads and streets. At the time the measure passed, numerous projects were listed for improvements, and each year local agencies add projects to the list, such as C Street.

Selk said the C Street LTA money was paid back using state provided Community Development Block Grant money earmarked for colonias. He said by using LTA funds in advance, the city saved about $12,000 in interest — the interest Woo said the city should pay back.

Selk said he was "surprised and disappointed" that Woo did not confer with city officials between the time the audit finding was discovered and completion of the audit.

The audit is dated Dec. 20, 2000.

Other audit findings include:

· the city of Calipatria is not earning enough interest on its LTA funds.

· the city of Holtville should not commingle LTA and California Department of Transportation funds, as it has done with $367,650 from Caltrans, and that the city's overhead cost-allocation plan does not appear to be properly supported.

· the city of Westmorland is commingling LTA funds with other funds, that certain LTA moneys are not being posted to the proper fund, that certain records need to be updated, that interest payments are not being posted to LTA funds in a timely manner and that certain city LTA funds are not being posted to the LTA fund in a timely manner.

Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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