Agreement on independent audit into Fresno councilmembers spending

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Politics were on full display at Thursday's city council meeting.

"No matter how much you want to ignore this, I won't," says Councilmember Gary Bredefeld.

But after nearly two hours of contentious discussion, a unanimous decision showed Fresno's leadership agreed on one thing -- transparency in the form of an audit.

An outside accountant will look over the last five years of spending for anyone who holds a city credit card, receives reimbursements, has expenses or issues purchase orders.

That includes all council and mayoral expenditures.

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The process will also include a cost analysis and a request to get a price for increasing the audit scope to 10 years.

Most of the cost to audit city spending will come out of the budget of the councilmember Bredefeld, who first called spending into question.

If the cost goes over a half-million dollars, the remainder will be pulled from the budget of councilmember Mike Karbassi.

The decision to fund the audit from their budgets came because the city's finance department doesn't think council spending is high risk.
Thursday's testy exchanges appeared to frustrate Mayor Jerry Dyer.

"I really do want one Fresno and it begins with one government," he said. "We can have differences of opinions on certain issues but at the end of the day, when we get out there in the public forum, we have to represent ourselves in a professional manner."

But the cost of transparency is more than a dollar amount.

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"There is also the cost of people in this community losing confidence in local government," Dyer said. "We can't afford that. When people start losing their confidence in us being able to serve them, then we are no longer effective."

While this may be a months-long process, the city manager's office is already in conversations with accounting firms, hoping to address any obvious policy violations immediately.

"I want to make sure we have the opportunity through the audit to modify, even if that's policy or have a separate set of policies for council and the administration," Dyer said.
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