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State auditor says California tax agency workers may have been overpaid by $572,000

Umbrellas were put to use as a storm passes over the state Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday,
Another audit at the state Capitol, pictured, finds misuse of taxpayer resources.
(Rich Pedroncelli / AP)

A state audit released Tuesday found that 25 managers at California’s troubled tax collection agencies were overpaid by at least $72,000 because they failed to record sufficient leave when absent for whole days.

The findings were included in a twice-yearly report on employee misconduct and waste throughout state government. The audit looked at payments made to supervisors since 2016 at the former State Board of Equalization, which was stripped of most of its power by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2017 following mismanagement allegations, and the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration, which was created that year to assume many of the tax collection duties formerly handled by the Board of Equalization.

“We also estimated that overpayments to other CDTFA employees in similar job classifications may have totaled more than $500,000 during the same period,” State Auditor Elaine Howle wrote in a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The new tax agency responded by saying it plans to audit the attendance records of the 25 employees identified in the report.

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The report issued Tuesday also said that the Judicial Council of California mismanaged its Assigned Judges Program, which pays retired judges to help courts with backlogs. The program assigned and compensated retired judges to work in superior courts that already had surpluses of judges.

“In fact, the AJP spent nearly $7 million of its $27-million budget in 2016 to provide judges to the five counties that had the highest number of surplus judges,” the audit said.

Howle said that the council has already made changes to better assess the need for help and control spending in the program.

Other findings by auditors include:

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—Three engineers with the State Water Resources Control Board cost the state $47,000 for work they did not perform by arriving to work late, taking extended lunch breaks and leaving work early.

—A California State University police officer often slept on the night shift, wasting as much as $16,400.

—A Caltrans worker over three years improperly claimed 80 hours of bereavement leave that were not approved and 173 hours of work that she did not perform at a cost to the state of $8,431.

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patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com

Twitter: @mcgreevy99


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