Riverside hires a Portland firm after firing the firm is shared with Bell; but the results don’t satisfy all

BY ALICIA ROBINSON
STAFF WRITER
arobinson@pe.com

Published: 21 November 2011 07:54 PM

Riverside’s new outside audit firm gave the city’s finances a clean bill of health this month, but some critics remain convinced that not all the city’s fiscal dealings have been aboveboard in recent years.

Moss Adams, based in Portland, Ore., presented the city’s annual financial report for fiscal 2010-11 to the council’s finance committee Nov. 16 and noted it found no fraud, concerns with the city’s fiscal viability or other significant issues.

Since it was the company’s first year auditing Riverside, it looked closely at eight major federal grant programs such as transportation, conservation and housing programs — more than it might in subsequent years.

“They went through even more programs than the previous auditor did and came up with the same degree of compliance,” City Finance Director Brent Mason said.

The city changed independent auditors this year in part because the city charter requires seeking proposals for audit firms every five years, but also because of negative news about its previous firm.

Mayer Hoffman McCann also had audited the city of Bell’s finances and reported no problems. But state Controller John Chiang later said the firm failed to follow accepted audit standards and should have found numerous concerns with Bell’s books, such as questionable loans to city employees, overcharging of taxes and a basic lack of checks and balances.

A group of residents has been raising concerns about Riverside’s fiscal practices for months, questioning transactions including recent transfers of property from the redevelopment agency to the city, the use of police asset forfeiture funds, and various bond issuances.

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