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Long Budget Reporting Delays? Supes Yawn.

Item 4h on next Tuesday’s Supervisors agenda has the seemingly routine and innocuous title: “Discussion and Possible Action Including Review of Board of Supervisor's Directives Requiring Follow Through from County Staff and/or Other Agencies…” 

We’ve seen this before, of course. Just another routine roundup of the ever-growing pile of board “directives” that are not acted on, followed up on, abandoned, or which will never see the light of day again since the day they were listed.

But a closer look at the “directives” gives a glimpse at what Auditor-Controller-Treasurer Tax Collector Chamise Cubbison has to deal with as she attempts to close the County’s books. 

Several of the directives are from the September 20, of 2022 budget discussion: “…direct County Counsel to develop and include a notice that there will be a decrease in payment for invoices submitted late via boilerplate language on contracts going forward.” 

Translation: some suppliers are slow to bill the County, causing delays in payments and creating ripple effects for the County’s accounting staff, generally categorized as IBNR, or “Incurred But Not Reported.”

Supervisor Maureen Mulheren has annotated the list of ignored directives asking, for example in this case, “Is this possible? When will it be complete? What about when it’s on the County side that there are delays?” Will she get an answer? It’s been over five months since the directive was given and nothing has happened.

Another September 20, 2022 directive says, “…direct CEO to work with the Department Heads and their fiscal units to work with outside vendors on timely, accurate invoicing.” (Which could include overbilling.)

Another says “…direct the Budget Ad Hoc to do trial run to determine if a consultant can generate a report and return to full board with information regarding where the data is located and what results are possible, as well as what the burden on the Auditor-Controller Treasurer-Tax Collector may be.” Mulheren annotates: “Executive Office? Is this complete? Can the Directive be removed?”

And, “…direct the Auditor-Controller Treasurer-Tax Collector to develop and provide report on the revenue and expense actuals vs budget.” Nothing was done, not by the Auditor-Controller Treasurer-Tax Collector or anyone else, including the Executive Office.

And, “…direct Budget Ad Hoc to work with Auditor-Controller Treasurer-Tax Collector to obtain information regarding any data, formulas, documentation utilized in preparing annual reports, including adjustments, beyond what is in Tyler Munis.” 

Tyler Munis is not some poor, beleaguered Junior Clerk of the Board. Tyler Munis is the County’s giant, ungainly, jargon-riddled computerized financial and accounting system, that few county employees know how to use properly, and fewer still understand. 

And, “…direct Budget Ad Hoc to work with the Auditor-Controller Treasurer-Tax Collector and CEO regarding a host-compliance software request for proposal (RFP) and return to the full Board with a plan at a future meeting.” No such RFP or plan has been forthcoming in the five months since this directive was given.

And, “…direct the Budget Ad Hoc to work with Auditor-Controller Treasurer- Tax Collector to compile a list of mandated functions of the Auditor-Controller/Treasurer-Tax Collector and determine what functions are/are not being met.” No list has been complied. 

In other words, there’s a vague awareness that certain County-wide budget tasks are way behind schedule or not being done at all. But the Board’s attitude is to yawn, sit back, and wait for someone to do something. 

At least Supervisor Mulheren has taken the trouble, albeit belatedly, to ask a few questions about these “directives.” But in all probability all we’ll hear on Tuesday is that they’re still working on them and no one knows if or when they’ll ever be finished. Then, after that, they’ll probably either postpone a few or just give up and delete them from their list of directives and forget about them entirely. 

Meanwhile, understaffed and overworked Auditor-Controller Treasurer-Tax Collector Chamise Cubbison will continue to be blamed for not closing the books on time.

More Dubious Consent Calendar Items

Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors Agenda was stripped of anything significant. It’s full of routine business with little public interest, along with a few large handouts to contractors and helping agencies buried in the consent calendar. 

For example, these consent calendar items caught our eye.

Item 3o) “Approval of Agreement with 4LEAF, Inc., for up to $1,600,000 in Contract Planning Services, from the Effective Date of the Agreement through December 31, 2023.”

Note the “up to” language, as if a cannabis grant-funded consulting contractor is going to spend less than the “up to” amount. 

And what are the “contract planning services”? Actually, they sound like the “services” the department should already be “providing.”

Completeness checks, form letters, reviews and verifications of Permit applications, zoning clearance and site plan reviews, referrals to Environmental Health, Sensitive Species Reviews, Air Quality reviews, Compliance Plan Agreement, and “further reviews as necessary after receiving direction from the Department.” 

Also, reviews of discretionary permits, and environmental documents.

And miscellaneous reports, answers to questions, and status notices to applicants. 

Despite their name (“4Leaf”), there’s nothing on this Pleasanton-based company’s website (or anywhere else for that matter) about cannabis, cannabis cultivation or related experience or services.

Aside from the fact that this outfit has no identifiable cannabis permit experience, much less with Mendo’s unique and complicated regs, and that much of this is work the Cannabis Department staff should have done long-ago and/or should be doing now since there’s a looming deadline, and that Mendo’s rules are uniquely restrictive compared with other counties in California, it’s another in the seemingly endless parade of costly obstructions being placed on the long and winding road to cannabis permit application approvals.

There’s another item which proposes to hand over about $1.7 mil (again, on the consent calendar, mind you), the amount left from a homeless “assistance” grant, to the 31 agencies comprising Mendo’s amorphous, unaccountable and ineffectual “continuum of care” bunch whose own “strategic plan” emphasizes that they exist mainly to perpetuate themselves, not significantly reduce the number of unhoused Mendolanders.

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