With concerns raised by County staff, the Grand Jury, and two whistleblowers, and to ensure that taxpayer funds were expended appropriately, Nevada County engaged the forensic audit team of CliftonLarsonAllen LLP to inspect the records of the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County for two recent County contracts. After extensive interviews, documentation collection and analysis over several months, no evidence of misappropriation of funds was revealed in either contract.
Nevada County contracts with the Fire Safe Council on various fuels reduction, fire mitigation and Firewise Community efforts. The Fire Safe Council also supported the County in responding to storm damage and green waste disposal after the December 2021 winter storm.
As the accounts and records of a private or non-profit agency are not subject to an audit of the Auditor-Controller’s Office, the inspection was limited to reviewing the contract processes, controls, and procedures surrounding the following two County contracts:
- $250,000 California Disaster Assistance grant to the County for “Winter Storm Support and Green Waste Mitigation”
- $3,343,553 CAL FIRE grant to the County for “Fuels Reduction Services – Ponderosa West Grass Valley Defense Zone Project”
“Financial stewardship and oversight are priorities for Nevada County,” said Auditor-Controller Gina Will. “We take our role of safeguarding public funds seriously and continue to strive for best financial practices for the County and for our partners.”
The Auditor-Controller is responsible for auditing the accounts and records of County departments and some special districts. Upon order of the Nevada County Board of Supervisors, the Auditor-Controller will exercise review of departmental internal controls. The law does not provide the County general financial oversight over private or non-profit agencies.
The review included recommendations to the Fire Safe Council to reduce the risk of fraudulent activity and errors. The recommendations include measures to strengthen internal controls within the Fire Safe Council’s accounting department, periodic training to the Board on its roles and responsibilities, and refining document retention practices.
“Fire Safe Council seems committed to implementing the recommended improvements,” reported Will. “My office is encouraged by the Fire Safe Council response and will continue to monitor proper contract oversight.”
The CliftonLarsonAllen LLP review is available here: Fire Safe Council Review.