State Audit of Naches Union Irrigation District Reveals Violations | Local

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An audit by the Washington State Auditor’s Office of a Yakima Valley irrigation district found violations of state regulations regarding conflict of interest and open meeting rules.

Naches Union Irrigation District officials responded that they consider the council member’s contract to be authorized and that the open meeting violations were the result of revised rules enacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The audit, covering the years 2019 to 2021, was reported on August 15 by the office of auditor Pat McCarthy. He alleges that the irrigation district failed to comply with state ethics laws or the open public meeting law and failed to file an accurate annual report.

He noted that state law prohibits city officials from having a beneficial interest in contracts and that one of the three members of the Naches Union Irrigation District Board of Directors partly owns a hired company. by the district for maintenance and operation services. The company manages the operations and maintenance of a main irrigation ditch and two subsystems, operating on assessment revenues of $42,000 in 2019 and $67,000 in 2021, according to the audit.

State law prohibits city officials from having a beneficial interest in contracts, and the state’s open meeting law requires the district to have discussions and make business decisions in an open public forum. The district is required to hold public meetings at least once a quarter.

The audit indicated that the district discusses the business informally throughout the year, but does not routinely have meetings open to the public. During the 36-month audit period, only one of the district’s 12 quarterly meetings was open to the public and had recorded minutes, the audit found.

District officials released a written response to the audit, noting that Gleed Canal Company, the company contracted for maintenance and operations services, is a not-for-profit operation. He also noted that while one irrigation board member has ties to the company, the other two NUID board members do not and are therefore sufficient to ratify the deal with Gleed Canal Company.

Regarding public meetings and issues with annual reporting, irrigation district officials said there is confusion over record keeping and other requirements when remote council meetings are held. during the pandemic.

“Going forward, council will hold meetings in accordance with current obligations under the (Open Public Meetings Act), with public notice,” the district wrote in a statement released by the auditor’s office.

An order from the governor temporarily halted in-person government meetings in 2020 to stop the spread of COVID-19, adding that “there are a plethora of electronic, telephone and other options that allow the public to attend meetings remotely. open public meetings. .” Many local government entities continued to hold town hall meetings via Zoom.

Members of the irrigation district board of directors could not be reached for comment by the Yakima Herald-Republic.

The auditor’s office said it will review the corrective actions during its next audit.

Current and past audit reports from Naches Union Irrigation District and other government entities are available at http://portal.sao.wa.gov/ReportSearch

Naches Union Irrigation District Audit

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