City Beat

Sacramento auditor to examine arena hiring, Police Department

Sacramento City Hall’s internal auditor will launch examinations in the coming fiscal year of the Police Department and the hiring practices of contractors at the downtown arena construction site as part of a plan approved by the City Council on Tuesday.

Auditor Jorge Oseguera’s office also will complete ongoing audits of firefighter overtime and the city’s purchase of small contracts with various vendors. Oseguera said all four audits are considered a high priority.

The auditor told the City Council that his office is operating with limited resources, allowing it to propose just the two new audits for the 2015-16 fiscal year that begins July 1.

Under a budget proposed by City Manager John Shirey this week, the auditor’s budget will decrease by $74,000 in the 2015-16 fiscal year and no new positions will be added to the office. The office received a $100,000 boost last year for contracted audits, but that spending is not being proposed again.

Shirey said Monday that he had “to make judgments between resources that are available and various wishes.” He said departments around the city requested 80 new positions he could not fund.

“I’m not questioning that the auditor could use more people,” Shirey said. “I just can’t fund everything, and I didn’t feel that was one I needed to fund.”

Shirey’s budget includes nearly $19 million in new spending on programs and services requested by Mayor Kevin Johnson and the City Council, including a study aimed at promoting downtown residential development, park upgrades, the replacement of two firehouses and police force diversity efforts.

Oseguera’s firefighter overtime audit was launched after a review found that the Fire Department spent almost $7 million on overtime in 2012, more than half the city’s total overtime spending. The review also found that some firefighters were working 1,500 hours of overtime a year.

An audit of the arena hiring practices will focus on whether the Sacramento Kings are meeting their stated goals of hiring local workers in the construction of the $477 million arena.

The Police Department has not been audited in more than five years. The auditor plans to start with a “departmentwide risk assessment,” then dive deeper into the department’s performance, according to a staff report.

Councilman Eric Guerra, who was sworn into office Tuesday, asked the auditor to consider an examination of the parks department in the near future. Local 39, the largest labor union of city employees, has asked for the auditor to look into an allegation that roughly 100 employees of that department did not receive proper medical or retirement benefits despite working enough hours to qualify for those benefits.

Oseguera said he does not have the resources to conduct the parks audit now, but that he may be able to next year.

Call The Bee’s Ryan Lillis, (916) 321-1085. Read his City Beat blog at sacbee.com/citybeat.

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