Committee accepts audit results

From left to right, Board of Trustees member Steve Zimmer, BOT member Edel Alonso, Chancellor Dianne G. Van Hook, BOT Vice President Michael Berger, BOT Clerk Michele Jenkins and BOT member Joan MacGregor at the groundbreaking of the Science Center at the College of the Canyons Canyon Country Campus on Wednesday, Jan, 24, 2018. The science center is one of multiple projects that were funded through the college's bond measure. Courtesy Photo

College of the Canyons Chancellor Dianne Van Hook joined college stakeholders and members of the independent citizens’ bond oversight committee Wednesday to hear the results of the audits that examined COC’s two most recent bond measures.

For the 12th year in a row, the Santa Clarita Community College District received an unmodified opinion for the Measure M and E audits, meaning the district has properly accounted for all bond expenditures, according to Public Accountant Bill Rauch.

The district received the best rating possible, Rauch said, noting that both bond audits contained no adjustments, audit findings, questioned costs or instances of noncompliance.

Vavrinek, Trine, Day & Co. LLP — the firm that conducted the financial and performance audits — tested approximately 40 percent of the expenditures that pertain to the $160 million Measure M and another 78 percent of expenditures that relate to the $230 milion Measure E, which oversight committee chair Nicholas Lentini described as a staggering amount of samples.

It’s very comforting to know the firm was able to look at a wide variety of bond expenditures, said Lenitini, before adding that the independent audit allows the committee to ensure the community that their tax dollars are being used responsibly and effectively.

Prior to the committee’s vote to accept the audit findings for Measure M, local resident Stephen Petzold took to the podium to question if the bond was being used for administrative salaries.

“These are questions the oversight committee — I hope — would be asking Mr. Rauch,” Petzold said before Lentini quickly replied.

“The oversight committee has been very happy with Mr. Rauch and his firm’s oversight,” the committee chair said.

After members moved to accept the Measure E audit, the citizens oversight committee also approved a resolution affirming the college’s compliance with state law, which college trustees will review at a future board meeting.

Shortly after the vote, Jim Schrage — the college’s vice president of facilities planning, operations and construction — took the podium to highlight the projects that have been funded by the Measure M and E bonds since they were respectively passed in 2006 and 2016.

Some projects could be completed as soon as two weeks from now, Schrage said, while others — like the update to the West PE building — are expected to break ground in March.

The science building at the Canyon Country campus, which has been highly anticipated by Van Hook and COC officials since it was announced, is still on track to be completed by the start of spring 2020, Schrage said.

The four-level, 55,000-square-foot center will be devoted primarily to chemical, biological and physical sciences and will house lecture rooms, labs, study spaces and more, according to college officials. The project will be completed before it begins accepting students.

“We’re going to take occupancy in October of this year, equip it, do our dry runs and get prepared for actual instruction,” Shrage said, “so when we open it up there won’t be any surprises.”

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