March 22, 2010 3:44 PM
Brooke Edwards

VICTORVILLE • The city’s request for the grand jury to hire on a firm to investigate its finances has stalled, with no answers from the San Bernardino County body as to why.

Councilman Ryan McEachron called for the investigation in early December, asking for a third party to take a closer look at the city’s payroll and accounts payable records plus all city contracts, in hopes of putting to rest persistent claims that malfeasance has occurred.

Acting on concerns over whether the forensic audit would truly be independent — and how the cash-strapped city would fund it — the city’s newest councilman said he then approached the grand jury and asked for help. McEachron said he received a favorable response from the group that’s been questioning Victorville officials about the city’s finances for its own investigation since last spring, and so he brought the suggestion back to his council.

On a 4-1 vote with Mayor Pro Tem Mike Rothschild opposing it, the council voted Jan. 5 to officially ask the grand to hire an auditing firm and help pay for the investigation.

A month later in early February, McEachron said he called Deputy District Attorney Charlie Umeda, who serves as legal counsel for the grand jury, to ask about the status of the city’s request. He was told the grand jury was “vetting accounting firms that they would ultimately choose from to perform the audit.”

But then came the issue of funding the investigation.

McEachron said the grand jury has $30,000 in its budget to cover items like this. However, he’s been told a forensic audit would cost somewhere between $200,000 and $300,000.

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Brooke Edwards may be reached at (760) 955-5358 or at bedwards@VVDailyPress.com.