Grand Jury finds Independent Special Districts lack Oversight and Citizen Involement

The 2017-2018 Ventura County Grand Jury investigated Ventura County independent special districts as to their transparency and public accountability.

In May 2000, the State of California watchdog group the Little Hoover Commission found that independent special districts often lack the kind of oversight and citizen involvement necessary to promote their efficient operation and evolution.

The Grand Jury found five independent special districts have not held public competitive elections since 1970. One special district has not held a competitive election since 1960.  The Grand Jury recommends independent special district boards discontinue the practice of appointing new board members a few months prior to a public election. These newly appointed board members become incumbents in uncontested elections that are never held.  

The Grand Jury concluded no independent special district in the County has made its reserve policies and practices available on its website.  The absence of publicly available reserve policies and practices does not serve the public interest. The Grand Jury recommends that all independent special districts have a published policy for reserve funds, including the size and purpose of reserves and how they are invested. These policies should be readily available for public review.

The public is invited to review the entire report.  It can be accessed at www.ventura.org/grand-jury; click on the Annual Reports tab and consult “Fiscal Year 2017-2018.” Independent Special Districts FINAL


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