Accounts payable

How do your county’s finances compare to those of others in California?


There’s an old story that the cobbler’s kids don’t have shoes, but for a California county auditor-controller of not having an annual audit on his county’s website, now there’s a strange story. How about two or three years ago? I waited in vain for the complete annual financial reports (ACFR) of the counties of Humboldt, Lassen and Tuolumne.

There may be a shortage of independent auditors available to perform the required annual duties, but even the biggest laggard of all, California, has posted its June 30, 2020 ACFR on its website since February.

When I started acquiring the audited annual financial statements for California counties in 2012, I was unable to obtain those for Modoc County for June 30, 2010. I called and asked Modoc’s auditor-comptroller to recall. The receptionist asked me for my toll-free number because the county budget couldn’t cover the long distance charges at that time.

As a senator, I tried to look for ways to help small counties complete their audits.

All of California’s 482 cities and 944 school districts are mandated to prepare this essential management tool in a timely manner, and for the most part, appear to be accomplishing this task. But, there are always some who drag out this process for months and years.

I had the privilege of serving as a member and board member of the California Association of County Treasurers and Tax Collectors (CACTTC) and the California State Association of Counties (CSAC), but when I seriously considered Running for Orange For the position of county auditor-controller in the June primary, I have to admit that potentially being a member of the California State Association of County Auditors (CalSACA) didn’t impress me much. . Too many of their members were not leading by example.

With that on my chest, let’s take a look at the chart below to see how your county compares to the other 57 in the Golden State.

The big news for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020 is Butte County. It jumped 27 places! A review of their audited financial statements reveals two unique and specific transactions. This county recorded a claim of $205 million resulting from a settlement with Pacific Gas & Electric. Who knows if they will one day receive all or part of it? It also reduced its affected assets by $65 million. These two factors had a huge impact on this county’s unallocated net deficit, reducing it from $284,917,542 to $3,385,064.

On the other hand, Calaveras County fell six places. Its long-term pension liability increased by $4.2 million, its other long-term debt by $2 million and its accounts payable by $2.5 million. Add to that an increase in affected assets of $16 million and you can see why there has been a significant movement.

But San Benito County fell even more, eleven spots, thanks to a five-fold increase in its unrestricted net deficit. His story is familiar. Pension plan liabilities increased by $4.7 million, new borrowings increased by $10.5 million and the establishment of a $9 million contingency reserve all had an impact on the liability side of the balance sheet. But the addition of $35 million in restricted assets also helped its story.

Three-quarters of the counties (44) remained in their current position or moved three positions or less. So there is not much to develop. However, five counties moved four places and nine counties moved five places or more. If you live in one of these counties, it’s time to review their records and ask your county supervisors for a detailed explanation.

Orange County fell three spots. We can attribute the loss of a spot to Butte County. Another spot may be the result of Lassen County no-shows as it rose by default. The abandonment of the final position was probably due to the surrender to union demands for more benefits.

The Orange County Grand Jury even devoted a report to a tragic bargaining misstep, which Supervisor Shawn Nelson and I voted against, but our three colleagues at the time in 2014 voted for. The 2014-2015 report (pdf) was titled “Orange County Sheriff Medical Insurance: County Failures in Negotiation, Documentation, Oversight, and Transparency.” Such is the influence of the Orange County Association of Deputy Sheriffs (AOCDS) on elected officials seeking to run for other offices.

In 2012, when obtaining comprehensive annual financial reports to compare the per capita position of each county, Orange County ranked 46th. We have made significant reforms to the Retiree Medical Scheme and the County Defined Benefit Pension Scheme. These efforts have resulted in an increase of 22 places over the past ten years. But expect more union gains in the future. AOCDS even endorsed two candidates in this month’s June primary for the fifth supervisory district.

The provision of increased benefits to medical retirees, known as other post-employment benefits (OPEB), means an increase in unfunded actuarial accrued liabilities, which results in an increase in liabilities, ultimately resulting in an increase in the unallocated net deficit.

In Simon Sinek’s book, “The Infinite Game”, he states, “Too many of our cultures are filled with people who work to protect their own interests… before those of the people they are meant to serve.”

As you can see from the chart provided, 95% of California counties have succumbed to employee bargaining unit claims. Those who entered the public sector to serve are now being served. Until management steps up and changes pension plans and retiree medical benefits, with the votes of county supervisors who truly represent the taxpayers, expect upside down balance sheets for decades to come.

The opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Epoch Times.

Jean Moorlach


John Moorlach is a former Orange County Supervisor who recently served as a state senator. Previously, he served 12 years as Orange County Treasurer-Collector and brought the county out of bankruptcy.