Compton Misused Gas Tax Funds According to State Audit

Compton misused gas tax funds state audit finds

More than $5.2 million dollars in state-issued funds that were supposed to be used for road repairs and other types of transportation expenses were misused by the city of Compton over a period of nine years according to a new state audit. 

Details of the audit revealed that weak financial oversight and poor accounting practices led allowed city officials to borrow $4.4 million from a special gas tax improvement fund as well as another $800,000 from a traffic congestion relief fund in a manner that violated state rules. 

All told? $5.2 million in taxpayer funds were misused during the period of 2007 and 2016. The city was informed that they will have to pay that money back to the state. 

Compton's current city manager who was not there during the time period the audit examined say they plan on making it right. 

"Our bad, we'll fix it," Compton City Manager Cecil Rhambo Jr. told the L.A. Times. "I don't know why they did that. My guess is they had some funding shortages."

This is the second state audit of the city of Compton. Last month, another report found rampant overspending turned a surplus of $22.4 million a decade ago into a deficit of $42.7 million just three years later. Despite efforts in 2014 to pay down that debt, the deficit increased once again the next year. 

State controller Betty Yee said the city also received failing marks in 71 out of the 79 measures that assess internal accounting and administrative controls. The audit rated Compton's accountability as "nonexistent." 

"Considering the findings of our review issued last month along with this gas tax audit, clearly the city's insufficient internal controls were widespread and included unallowable and excessive gas tax borrowing and spending," state Controller Betty Yee said Wednesday. "This further underscores the need for Compton to seriously and diligently address the findings of both reports."

The money came from a special gas tax improvement fund that had been set aside to expand the Martin Luther King Jr. Transit Center, as well as improve traffic signal upgrades, sobriety checkpoints, and other transportation expenses. 

The audit did not call out anyone in the city who responsible for the overspending. 

Photo: Getty Images

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