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Apology was warranted
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At Tuesday’s meeting of the Turlock City Council, I issued a personal apology to members of the city’s finance staff for a statement made in my opinion editorial to the Turlock Journal. I would like to clarify the facts involved and why an apology was the right thing to do.
In separate meetings with first the budget subcommittee on May 11 and then the full city council on May 13, City Manager Roy Wasden fielded questions about the recently “found” surplus funds that existed in insurance reserve accounts and the historical transfer of funds between accounts. Wasden specifically responded to questions about the transfer of funds between accounts as “having taken place without council knowledge or authorization.”
The three transfers between accounts being questioned took place between the years 2000 and 2005 before most of the current city council members were elected. The perception of the transfers was only made worse when a suggestion was made during the budget subcommittee process that some of the excess reserve funds could be moved over to cover the hole in the health fund as had been done in the past.
On May 24, two days after my editorial ran in the Journal, I met with Wasden and he informed me new facts had been unearthed which showed the three funds transfers had been authorized by previous city councils. I willingly accepted Mr. Wasden's apology for the incorrect information and the misperception it created. It was the incorrect depiction of money transfers “taking place without council knowledge or authorization” that led to the conclusion that fraudulent accounting practices were occurring. The mere perception of financial fraud was painful knowing how hard the budget subcommittee has worked over the past two years trying to preserve services for city residents and save jobs for valued city employees.
With new facts in hand, a sincere apology to members of the finance staff was in order and I apologized. With the misunderstanding behind us, council and staff alike are happy that 5 million dollars will be returned to the City of Turlock's general fund in an effort to ensure a continuity of city services in tough economic times.
— Ted Howze, Turlock City Council member