State making cemetery and parks district pay for missing paperwork
October 27, 2013The State Controller's office sent out letters to the Valley Center Cemetery District and the Valley Center Parks and Recreation District last week to notify them of missing financial reports. Both districts complied immediately in providing the reports, but Jacob Roper, a spokesperson for the Controller's office, says the districts will still have to pay a forfeiture — effectively a fine.
The missing report from the parks district was due in Oct. of 2011, while the report from the cemetery district was due in October of 2012. Roper claims that previous overdue notices were sent out, but officials from both districts said this was the first they were hearing of it.
"I never received one," said Doug Johnsen, general manager of the parks district. "Why didn't you tell me in 2011 or 2012?" he said. Johnsen has no doubt the parks district properly filed their paperwork that year.
Donna Weldon, bookkeeper of the cemetery district, had a similar response.
"I had no idea that these reports weren't turned in," she said. The reports in question are fairly straightforward documents that outline expenses and revenues from the fiscal year.
Surprisingly, neither of the letters sent to the two districts mention the impending forfeitures. They only warn that the reports must be turned in by Dec. 31 or else the districts may face possible fines and audit. However, Roper confirmed that the cemetery district will be receiving a $2,500 forfeiture notice from the Attorney General's office and the parks district will receive a $5,000 forfeiture notice.
"That is so ridiculous," said Weldon. She said the letter from the controller's office was nicely written and only notified her that the report was due, not that there would be a fine.
Johnsen was adamant that the fault lies with the controller's office, not with the parks district.
"I'm not paying that $5,000 and my board's not approving it," he said. Both Johnsen and Weldon will be doing further research into the supposedly missing reports.
Across the state, 117 special districts and nine cities received these sorts of letters this week.