Calif. to tighten local fiscal reporting

Aug. 3, 2010 at 8:09 PM

SACRAMENTO, Aug. 3 (UPI) -- California's rules on reporting government expenditures must be overhauled following a scandal in a Los Angeles suburb, the state controller said Tuesday.

John Chiang said he will release new regulations within a few weeks requiring local governments to provide clear information on pay for municipal officials, the Los Angeles Times reported.

"The absence of transparency is a breeding ground for waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars," Chiang said. "A single Web site with accessible information will make sure that excessive pay is no longer able to escape public scrutiny and accountability."

In Bell, a city of fewer than 40,000 people, a Times investigation found a fiscal shell game. For example, Bell reported the total cost of the city council was less than $35,000 in 2007-2008, while part-time council members were actually paid a total of $100,000, including compensation for attending multiple committee meetings, sometimes held at the same time.

The total spending for the city manager was $800,000, and the same sum covered two other employees.

Chiang said the new regulations will require separate itemizing of payroll costs for every department.

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