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SO FAR, TRASH AUDIT SHOWS NO LOCAL WRONGDOING.

Byline: Heather MacDonald Staff Writer

SANTA CLARITA - Despite one report that an audit of Santa Clarita's trash franchise showed nothing amiss so far, two councilmen said Tuesday it is too soon to assess the findings of the $100,000 probe.

``I haven't made a judgment,'' said Mayor Frank Ferry. ``We have to wait to evaluate the audit until the report is complete.''

On Monday, Councilwoman Jo Anne Darcy said the inquiry discovered no wrongdoing on the part of the city staff or the local waste haulers.

``It is inappropriate to discuss the results before they've completed their work,'' said Councilman Cameron Smyth.

Neither Ferry nor Smyth disputed Darcy's account of the findings of the auditors from Ernst & Young, who have been examining documents and interviewing employees since late November. A formal report on the findings of the audit is expected at the Feb. 12 council meeting, Smyth said.

The audit was ordered by the City Council to make sure that residents of Santa Clarita were not being overcharged by the local haulers and to determine whether the city staff, under the direction of City Manager George Caravalho, negotiated the best deal possible.

Thus far, the city has spent about $45,000 on the audit, Smyth said. The council has authorized spending up to $100,000.

The auditors are expected to recommend that the city keep more detailed records about the amount of trash sent to area landfills from Santa Clarita to better track how much waste the city is diverting through recycling, according to Darcy.

County and state officials have said Santa Clarita's problems are part of statewide trouble in tracking trash from the garbage can to the landfill.

The audit was ordered after Councilwoman Laurene Weste, who was mayor at the time, spearheaded an effort to terminate Caravalho after allegations of mismanagement surfaced during a political battle over the city's lucrative trash contracts.

None of those allegations have been proven true by the audit, Darcy said.

The City Council has already endorsed a more active role for the city in verifying the amount of trash recycled by residents and businesses.

After the audit is completed, the council members will then decide whether to execute the franchise agreement the council voted 4-1 to approve. Weste cast the lone dissenting vote.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 16, 2002
Words:380
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