A photo of Banning City Hall
The Banning City Council voted against hiring an outside firm to conduct a citywide forensic audit last month. (City of Banning photo)

The Banning City Council last month voted 3-2 against hiring an outside firm to conduct a citywide forensic audit, opting instead to have Administrative Services Director Lincoln Bogard conduct a phase one audit in-house.

“I think Lincoln’s very competent to do it, because this is what his expertise is in,” Councilmember Colleen Wallace said. “I want to save money, so I don’t have a problem with having it done internally.”

The council previously interviewed three firms — Marsh Minick, P.C., FORVIS, LLP, and BDO USA, P.C. — and ultimately ranked Marsh Minick as its top choice with BDO USA coming in second. 

Marsh Minick’s proposal came in at $304,000 for both phase one and phase two, and included two full-time auditor/investigators and one full-time administrative assistant working on the city’s forensic audit for the entire four month period, Bogard said.

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However, the council decided that instead of spending that money on bringing in an outside firm for work Bogard said he could do in-house, it would make more sense to use that money to hire additional temporary staff.

“I think that’s a better plan, rather than spending the money on this big firm,” Mayor Pro Tem Rick Minjares said. “If it turns out that you find something that’s questionable, like you did with the electric company, then we revisit and we go down that road.”

Councilmember Sheri Flynn, who voted against the motion, said that the purpose of an outside firm conducting a forensic audit was to restore confidence in the public that the city was on the right track.

“If it’s not done like that, then don’t do it at all,” she said. “Because that’s the purpose of this.”

“If you’re going to have another internal audit, then don’t even bother,” she said. “We owe it to the citizens, and we owe it to ourselves and the staff to make sure that everything’s good, and it’s not going to be believable if you just do it, so don’t bother.”

Ultimately, Councilmember David Happe joined Flynn in voting against the motion.

A full recording of the workshop can be found here on the city’s website.

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