Records Requests August 4 and September 14, 2015 (October 16, 2015)
Debra Thomas, Deputy Town Clerk
14955 Dale Evans Parkway
Apple Valley, CA 92307
Dear Ms. Thomas:
Thank you for all your assistance on public records requests. However, and I am sure this is no reflection on you, but there seems to be a problem with the responses to the following requests on the above referenced dates:
Monthly status reports by each department of the town and the monthly status report to town council related to the budget and status of expenditures for the month of July, 2015 of fiscal year 2015-2016 (8/4/15), and fiscal year 2014-2015 and July and August 2015 of fiscal year 2015-2016 (9/14/15), including, but not limited to, all reports, correspondence, memos, emails of staff and council related to the monthly status reports.
An August 31, 2015 response states the Town Manager has determined
… the Town does not possess any records responsive to your request.
A October 14, 2015 request states
… all responsive hard copy records are being provided to you for review …
However, a review of the records provided in response to these requests amounted to nothing more than the Town Managers Update which contained significant information which was not responsive and fails to comply with the request.
It appears that a problem exists and needs a response. Pursuant to Town Budget Resolutions 2010-24. 2011-25. 2012-32, 2013-22, 2014-15 and 2015-12, which represent the last six fiscal years, states the following:
A monthly report shall be prepared by each department and/or project indicating any changes in service levels and the progress each entity has achieved or failed to achieve and the reasons for said status, if they have not obtained results. Each manager shall be accountable for achieving results of his/her organization unit based upon the objectives set for each unit by the Town Manager and Town Council and shall be evaluated as to their performance in an annual performance appraisal conducted by the Town Manager.
A monthly status report will be provided to the Town Council reflecting budget year to date expenditures, and percentage used by each department and fund of the Town.
Note here, I am not requesting performance evaluation information, since I clearly recognize the confidentiality of such. That said, that is not an excuse for failing to provide the basic budget information, which was self-imposed by the staff preparation of the resolutions, and by Council adoption of same.
periodic Town Manager Updates does not meet the criteria established in the resolutions adopted.
Please clarify why these monthly reports do not exist. Is it a matter of the Council simply rubber stamping approval without reading and being aware of the mandate for such reports for the past six years, which would seem to be a necessary element to their fiduciary responsibilities. Or, has town staff simply ignored the requirement and therefore has not complied for the past six years. Or, is it a matter of the Town Manager decided to withhold the monthly reports in violation of the Public Records Act. It certainly cannot be that monthly budget status reports are a matter of confidentiality, nor would it seem that monthly budget status reports are an attorney-client privilege. Such monthly budget reports are at the heart of the public’s right to know how public funds are being managed.
I do see that the Finance Department, for the past four fiscal years, has on one of their goals, to
Prepare monthly budget status reports within ten days of month end. However, it would seem that even if they cannot meet the
… within ten days of month end. the reports should still be available no matter how many days from month end they are being produced, or could this be a
failure to achieve for the past four years.
It seems when even an
off the shelf financial program requires only a few keystrokes to produce such timely monthly reports, that this should be a very simple report to timely produce, especially with the town’s integrated financial programming, and by an award winning staff.
I trust and look forward to your very prompt response, given the already inordinate delays in responding to my Public Records requests for something that should have been done every month for the past six years.
Leane Lee, Apple Valley
cc: Mayor and Town Council; Town Manager; Town Attorney; Chad Morgan, Legal Counsel; Daily Press