Back in 2006, voters in Tulare County approved Measure R to fund transportation projects with an increase in the sales tax. The measure ultimately has created a major dispute not only between the Tulare County Association of Governments (TCAG) and the city of Lindsay but also between the city and its residents. For awhile now, TCAG has accused the city of Lindsay of misusing taxpayer dollars and demanded that it pay back millions in Measure R funds. Over the course of 21 months, Lindsay submitted invoices for payments from the measure’s funds, but the bottom line is that many expenses were simply ineligible for reimbursements. We relayed back in September that an audit was released showing great mismanagement on the part of former City Manager Scot Townsend and former Finance Director/City Clerk Kenny Walker. TCAG has now received an audit of its own, which posits that Lindsay owes a little over $1 million due to overbilling for a downtown revitalization project.
The Times Delta points out that “The auditors also found that Lindsay had charged TCAG $317,000 in costs it had also billed to the state Department of Transportation or previously billed to TCAG.” In addition, the auditing firm found that TCAG was billed for many expenses that weren’t even related to the project. TCAG wants the city to return the $3.75 million that it received in Measure R funding (which could put the city in a precarious financial position).
We’ve relayed previously that audits regarding the Measure R funds and TCAG’s demands further enraged residents in Lindsay who have railed against the management of the city. The Measure R dispute essentially tipped residents over the edge and they initiated a recall of all five council members. The recall effort initially hit some bumps in the road and stumbled from the outset, but the third attempt could pull through. The Recorder reports the following on the latest effort:
“The recall proponents have now reached a point where they only have to worry about getting the recall petition right. If it is declared to have deficiencies, they will have to work on correcting them. The entire process will not start over. ‘We’re looking forward to completing [the petition] so we can start with the recall,’ [recall proponent Yolanda] Flores said, adding that she feels she and the other recall proponents can gather enough signatures to have the situation settled at the voting booths. Councilman Danny Salinas said he believes the recall proponents should focus their efforts elsewhere because a special election will “cost the taxpayers and the city money. I feel like I’ve done a great job in my tenure so far,’ he said. ‘The majority of the people (in Lindsay) are still backing us.’”
If initial forms are approved, then proponents will have to gather 549 valid signatures from registered voters in the city on each council member’s recall petition.