March 21, 2019
The Governor of California
President pro Tempore of the Senate
Speaker of the Assembly
Sacramento, California 95814
Dear Governor and Legislative Leaders:
As requested by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, the California State Auditor presents this audit report pertaining to the city of Lincoln and its administration of public funds and assets. This report concludes that Lincoln’s mismanagement of public funds, insufficient accountability, and inadequate oversight threatens its financial stability. Specifically, the city made questionable loans, transfers, and allocations during fiscal years 2013–14 through 2016–17 that did not always follow state law. The city used reserves from restricted funds designated for specific purposes for unrelated interfund loans and transfers, even though it was not able to demonstrate that the borrowing funds could repay them. Additionally, Lincoln misrepresented its financial position by temporarily transferring amounts from a restricted fund to offset significant year-end deficits, thereby presenting those funds as if they were solvent.
Lincoln also overcharged developers and builders for the cost of water infrastructure and capacity, which resulted in the city accumulating nearly $41 million in its water connections fund as of June 2017. In addition, Lincoln undercharged developers for city staff costs to administer development projects. Until fiscal year 2018–19, Lincoln based these charges on cost data from 13 years ago, even though staff costs have increased by an average of 6 percent per year since that time. Further, Lincoln failed to pay for its own use of municipal utilities and instead passed these costs on to ratepayers, violating provisions of the state constitution. Although the city acknowledged that it should have paid more than $1.6 million for its share of water, sewer, and solid waste services during a four-year period from January 2014 to February 2018, it has yet to provide equitable consideration to its ratepayers.
Finally, Lincoln did not establish or consistently follow key policies and procedures to ensure compliance and transparency in its financial practices, which resulted in questionable spending and management of public funds. In each of its past several financial audits, Lincoln’s external financial auditor reported recurring deficiencies, including the city’s inability to accurately prepare its financial statements at the end of each fiscal year.
Chief Deputy State Auditor