State auditor gets OK to examine South Orange County water district’s financial records – Orange County Register

DANA POINT — The nonpartisan State Auditor’s Office was given the green light Wednesday, June 30, by a legislative committee to go over the financial records of the South Orange County Wastewater Authority following questions raised by area city officials about how the agency is spending its money.

Sen. Patricia Bates, the Republican minority leader from Laguna Niguel, and Assemblyman Bill Brough, R-Dana Point, pushed for the audit and received unanimous support  from the Joint Legislative Audit Committee.

“We thank the Joint Legislative Audit Committee for its bipartisan support of our request to ensure that Orange County taxpayer dollars are spent properly,” the two lawmakers said in a joint statement. “An independent audit will help explain inconsistencies in SOCWA’s financial records and provide greater transparency to the public. We look forward to reviewing the audit when completed and working with SOCWA and stakeholders to address any issues that may be identified.”

SOCWA is a joint powers authority that includes 10 Orange County water agencies representing about 500,000 businesses and residents. The water agencies fund the authority, which provides wastewater services to the southern portion of the county.

The authority “embraces the audit,” SOCWA spokesman Steve Greyshock said.

“As Senator Bates stated at the meeting, she believes it will vindicate that our financials are solid,” he said. “It’s definitely a good thing.”

The audit, however, will cost the state about $270,000 and about 2,200 hours of staff time, Greyshock said. “And that’s on top of what it will cost our staff. That’s our one disappointment.”

Laguna Hills Mayor Don Sedgwick recently penned a commentary in the Orange County Register detailing complaints from city officials about SOCWA’s record-keeping and how the agency responds to public records requests. Sedgwick said he was concerned about how the management of the budget could affect water…

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