By STAFF AND WIRE REPORT
Taft Mayor Paul Linder said Thursday that the city failed to file required financial reports with the state simply because it misunderstood the deadline and will send up that information as soon as it can.
State Controller John Chiang sent letters Wednesday to nine cities including Taft and 117 special districts, chastising them for failing to file timely financial reports with his office as required by law.
Stockton, which has declared bankruptcy and is seeking voter approval of a sales tax increase next month, is one of the delinquent cities.
Chiang gave the tardy governments until Dec. 31 to file the documents his office uses to compile reports, including those on employee compensation, or face audits.
"Transparency in financial reporting -- including public salaries -- is necessary to protect communities against the misuse of taxpayer dollars and other abuses of public trust," Chiang said in a statement, citing financial scandals in Bell and other communities.
Besides Taft and Stockton, the cities receiving Chiang's letter are Beaumont, Firebaugh, Hercules, Imperial, La Habra, Lindsay and Westmorland. The special districts are scattered throughout the state, mostly in rural communities.
Taft failed to file a required "financial transactions report" and a "compensation report."
Linder said Taft staff mistakenly thought the deadline was Oct. 18. He said the city has talked to the controller's office and the office has given Taft an extension.
"It's just a staffing issue," Linder said. "Something slipped by."
Mentioning the compensation report, Linder went on to question why the state is so "worried about this silly report" given all of the issues facing California governments.
-- The Californian and Sacramento Bee contributed to this story.