T■ By Melissa Diaz Hernandez / Reporter
he city of Hemet has failed to provide the California State Auditor its updated corrective action plan, which was due in February. In a May 9 response to a California Public Records Act request submitted by The Valley Chronicle to the California State Auditor, Chief of Public Affairs Margarita Fernandez states, “As of this date, our office has not received the City of Hemet’s February 2017 corrective action plan and thus, we have no responsive documents to your CPRA request.”
The Valley Chronicle submitted the request on May 3, asking for the “updated corrective action plan… This corrective action plan is in response to the State Auditor’s Report: City of Hemet: Its Ongoing Budget Deficit and Organizational Inefficiency Threaten Its Financial Stability and Delivery of Public Safety Services (2015-806).”
Several emails to city officials have not received response. The city of Hemet is still listed as one of the two worst managed cities in the state.
Since the audit was conducted, the city of Hemet has only provided a letter regarding the corrective action plan dated Aug. 2, 2016 that is posted on the city website. The auditor responded to the City of Hemet’s initial response to the audit dated July 11, 2016 and published the findings on Aug. 4, 2016. The Aug. 2 letter is basically a reiteration of the letter sent to the auditor on July 11, 2016.
Since February 2017, the City of Hemet’s Deputy City Manager/City Finance Director Jessica Hurst resigned, taking a job with the Colton Joint Unified School District. We received confirmation at the March 14 Hemet City Council meeting that Hemet’s human resources manager would also be leaving, proving that the “turnover of key positions and lack of consistent leadership” is still a hurdle the city has not yet overcome. We previously reported that the city’s FY 17/18 budget will be prepared by Administrative Consultant Joy Canfield, who has taken over Hurst’s role for the interim.
Hemet City Manager Alex Meyerhoff’s performance evaluation was completed April 20 in a closed session meeting at Hemet City Hall. The council indicated that they will come back for quarterly check-ups or status reports. At the May 9 council meeting, the Hemet City Council unanimously approved consent calendar item 17 without discussion to “amend the city’s classification Plan to update the classification of Assistant City Manager.” This step allows for the assistant city manager position to be added to the FY 17/18 budget and the hiring of an assistant city manager should the council choose.
One department not addressed in the State Audit is the water department. Multiple people have addressed inconsistencies in water bills on multiple occasions at the podium during the Communications from the Public at Hemet City Council meetings. Mayor Pro Tem Michael Perciful has asked for the issue of the water department’s billing be brought before council not twice, but three times. As of yet, it has not been addressed.