Yucaipa is reshuffling its finance department after two senior executives left months after an employee was arrested for theft in the city in 2019, and auditors discovered issues authorities were working to correct.
Yucaipa City Council last month approved a city-wide reorganization, particularly onerous for the finance department.
The changes include the creation of two new accountant positions and the reduction of the scope of the position of Director of Finance and Administrative Services to a position of Director of Finance.
City manager Ray Casey told council on September 27 that much of the restructuring involved taking back office services out of the purview of the finance department.
“The point here is to allow the finance group to focus all of its attention on the budget; audit; daily and monthly financial needs; financial reporting requirements, ”Casey said at the meeting. “As the board knows, we had a few issues that we have resolved and continue to resolve… part of the challenge has been for the group to focus on HR issues, worker compensation, employee issues. unemployment “and more while doing financial work.
Among the issues noted in last year’s audit were the fact that mail would have to be opened and payments recorded before they were distributed to departments or individuals; and monthly bank reconciliations should be completed in a timely manner. Management said they are already making changes.
The report written to council for the September 27 meeting noted that in late 2019 and early 2020, the city lost its two top-level finance staff, both of whom had long tenures in office. City Hall.
This left “staff who were new or previously not involved in high-level financial operations to learn many critical departmental processes,” according to the report. “Since then, many issues have been discovered that were part of past practices over the years, and it has been determined that various processes need to be created or need to be significantly improved. “
The departure of the two officials came months after the arrest in November 2019 of office assistant Martha Amarilys Avalos. She was charged with theft and pleaded not guilty. The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said the checks made payable to the city were deposited into Avalos’ personal account. A preliminary hearing is currently set for November 18.
Recently, two other employees of the department resigned “putting the department in need of additional staff,” according to the report.
For the past year and a half, the department has contracted with MV Cheng & Associates to temporarily fill vacant finance positions while the city fixes issues.
The council also extended this contract on September 27.
Other changes approved by council transfer human resources work to the city manager’s service.
The changes transform an accounting assistant position into a full-fledged accountant position and add another finance accountant position, Casey said.
One of the accountant positions is intended to work primarily on grant funding such as reimbursements and funding tracking, Casey told the board. The other will be “responsible for some of those daily, weekly and monthly requirements that, again, we continue to strive to meet,” the city manager said.